SA’s Loeriesfontein wind farm completes installation of 61 turbines

South Africa’s Loeriesfontein wind farm has announced its completion of all 61 wind turbine installations as well as its achievement of 1.25 million work hours without a single lost-time-incident.

The wind farm stated in a statement that it completed the lifting of all its wind turbine generators ahead of expectation, attributable to the dedicated turbine installation crew who it said began the lifting process during August 2016.

According to it, the installation crew worked many late nights and early mornings to take advantage of the periods of low wind to install all the turbines in six months and ahead of schedule.

“This is a hugely significant health and safety construction milestone for one of the country’s largest wind farms, so considering the sheer scale of the project, the multiple level of activities and the complexities involved, it is an impressive achievement,” said Christo Loots, Project Manager of Loeriesfontein Wind Farm.

The wind farm also noted that approximately 70 per cent of the workforce came from the Loeriesfontein community and have directly benefited from the skills development programmes initiated by it.

It explained that the work experience gathered from Loeriesfontein, will benefit Khobab Wind Farm, which is adjacent it, and which will commence its first turbine lifting early April.

The statement stated the Siemens wind turbines, which are 100 metres tall to allow for optimum energy production, took between one and three days to construct on a favourable weather day.

It added that the three 53 metres blades, made from fibreglass reinforced epoxy, were connected to the rotor at ground level before they were lifted to the top of the turbine.

“This is a complicated lifting exercise, in which one crane raises the assembled rotor whilst another smaller crane and taglines guide the rotor into the correct position.

“The wind turbine’s tip reaches an impressive 154 metres into the sky when one of the blades stands vertically. The heaviest component is the nacelle, which contains the generator and gearbox; and weighs 82.5 tonnes,” the statement stated.

Situated in the Hantam Municipality 60km north of Loeriesfontein in the Northern Cape, the Loeriesfontein wind farm will have 61 wind turbines erected on a 3,453 hectares of agricultural land, and will connect into a 132kV Eskom line.

Accordingly, the site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into Eskom’s Helios substation approximately 11km south of the site, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact.

When operating at full capacity, the Loeriesfontein wind farm will generate approximately 563,500 MWh of clean renewable energy per year; and this is expected to supply electricity to power up to 120 000 South African homes.