Friday, July 24, 2009

The Rocky Road To Wind Power

Posted by timothy on Thursday July 23, @07:40PM
from the must-save-many-megawatts-to-outweigh dept.
Hugh Pickens writes"The NY Times has an interesting story on the logistical problems involved in transporting disassembled towers that will reach more than 250 feet in heightfrom ports or factories to the remote, windy destinations where the turbines are erected. In Idaho trucks laden with tall turbine parts have slammed into interstate overpasses requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. In Texas the constant truck traffic is tearing up small roads in the western part of the state where the turbines are being rapidly erected. And in Maine a truck carrying a big piece of turbine got stuck for hours while trying to round a corner near Searsport."
"'It left a nice gouge in Route 1,' said Ben Tracy, who works nearby at a marine equipment store and saw the incident. On a per-turbine basis, the cost of transportation and logistics generally varies from around $100,000 to $150,000, said John Dunlop, an engineer with the American Wind Energy Association, and experts say that transportation logistics are starting to limit how large — and as a result how powerful — wind turbines can get. There is talk of breaking a blade up into multiple pieces, but 'that's a very significant structural concern,' says Peter Stricker, vice president at Clipper Windpower who added that tower bases were getting too large to squeeze through underpasses. But a partial solution may be at hand. While vast majority of turbine parts now travel by truck, in Texas and elsewhere, some wind companies are looking to move more turbine parts by train to save money. But even the train routes must avoid low overpasses when big pieces of wind turbines are aboard. 'It's not your typical rail-car shipments,' said Tom Lange, a Union Pacific spokesman."

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