Green energy at 2,000 meters above sea level
Madrid / 27 October 2020
Slopes with a gradient of up to 32%, 57-meter blades, close to 100-meter towers, more than 120 ton nacelles, and often difficult weather conditions with fog, rain and sometimes snow. Transporting components can become the biggest challenge in the construction of a wind farm. And this this is the case at Nudo, in Asturias (Spain), where Siemens Gamesa is installing a total of 49 wind turbines for Iberdrola at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters.
This is what makes transport in some cases the most complicated element in the construction of a wind farm. Carlos Vildosola, Siemens Gamesa's Logistics director for Southern Europe and Africa, identifies the challenges involved in a project: "The size, especially of the blades, which today can reach 100 meters in onshore, the diameter of the towers, almost five meters, which complicates passage through tunnels, and the weight of towers and nacelles, which limits going over bridges and some roads."
In the case of Nudo de Asturias the situation is even more complicated because of its location in the middle of the mountains, at a high altitude, and because of the project size, with almost 50 wind turbines. "To be able to take the components to their destination we have to go up and down slopes that in some cases have a 32% gradient," says Carlos, who confesses that this is one of the most complicated projects he has faced in his career.
Nudo is one of the many projects that Siemens Gamesa is carrying out for Iberdrola, a company that has more than 16.6 GW of renewable energy in Spain. According to Clara Fierro, director of the project at Iberdrola, "the main challenge of the transportation at Nudo is the complexity of the route, as well as the logistics required to get the components up to the parks without affecting the various activities in the area - farms, school buses, entrance to the factories." Clara highlights from Siemens Gamesa's contribution, "the experience and solutions needed to to tackle very complex issues, as well as a dedicated team, pushing for the project to go ahead."
Although what can really be an odyssey are the permits, the blissful bureaucracy. There are building and transport permits, which can vary depending on the time of year. And the process is tortuous because there are various administrations involved - local, regional and state in many countries -, others with the power to veto, such as private motorways, and then the various police forces, which are responsible for escorting transport. “There are projects where we have to coordinate the permits from 20 different authorities, and we have to get those permits by the same date; if there is a small delay, we have to change everything," Carlos said.