Hunting the Wind

wind turbines on snowy mountain under clear blue sky during daytime

The 200-megawatt wind farm project has been under development in Kolsky District, Murmansk Oblast, for about a decade. And after many years of standstill its construction finally started in 2015. The Dutch Windlife Renewables together with WSB Neue Energien GmbH, Germany, have initiated the project, cost of which is approximately €280 million.

“Under extreme weather conditions we intend to erect 100 wind generator turbines, adding up to the HPP and balancing the high voltage electric main of Murmansk Oblast, resulting in guaranteed stability of power deliveries,” the Company’s press release said.

Equipment required for assembly of wind generators Vestas V39 within the project – blades, nacelles, pedestals, etc. – began to arrive at the construction site in the period from February to March this year. MORTRANS acted as a forwarding agent for this delivery. A total of 14 pieces of cargo with a total weight of 58.22 tons, including oversize items, were supplied. The heaviest load was a nacelle with dimensions 6.7 х 2.2 х 2.32 meters, weighing 17.3 tons. The most bulky position included 3 blades with dimensions 19.5 х 0.99 х 2.09 meters, weight of each item being 1.5 tons.

Under the contract, the cargo was delivered on a “door-to-door” basis. The equipment was received in Werdum (Germany), loaded in the Port of Lübeck, reloaded in the Port of Saint-Petersburg and sent to Kola (Murmansk Oblast, Russia).

Planning of the transport operation had started the year before. An optimal route of cargo delivery had been elaborated (with several alternative logistical options worked through). MORTRANS supplied the motor transport for loading in German Werdum (in compliance with the schedule agreed upon with the Client) and delivered the load to the Port of Lübeck, where parts of the wind generators were reloaded from vehicles on special-purpose 60-foot Mafi trailers (18 meters long). Later the equipment was shipped to Saint-Petersburg port on a Ro-Ro vessel. Upon the customs clearance in the Russian authority the items were again reloaded from the Mafi trailers on motor transport and hauled to the erection site on Solovaraka bald peak (Kolsky District, Murmansk Oblast).

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This transport operation is only the first part of the big project. According to Paul Logchies, Windlife Renewables General Manager, wind farm construction and wind turbines installation are planned to be completed in October 2016. The joint venture shall build a wind farm consisting of 80 turbines, each of them with 2.5-megawatt capacity, producing about 650 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy per annum. Should the project be executed in full, Russia’s largest wind farm will appear in Murmansk Oblast.

But the Russian legislation may serve as a backset to these plans. In accordance with one of the requirements of the RF Government Resolution No. 449 dated May 28, 2013, localization of equipment manufacture shall make 55 percent (for the units built in 2015) and 65 percent – for those built in 2016. It means that part of the wind turbines – towers and blades, for instance, – shall be produced in Russia.

As explained by Yuri Sergeev, Renewable Energy Project Coordinator, Bellona-Murmansk, this initiative demonstrates how hard it is to implement alternative energy projects in Russia. “There are no manufacturers of this equipment in our country. It is not clear how they are going to deal with this problem. Expediency of this project raises eyebrows as well. The thing is, Murmansk Oblast is a perfect place for construction of wind generation facilities given its good wind potential. At the same time the region is characterized by excess of energy. Murmansk Oblast delivers power to adjacent regions and exports it to Finland. I do not understand why we need new generating capacities. Maybe the wind energy will also be exported,” Mr. Sergeev said.

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But the Dutch are full of optimism, stating, “We had a dream to build the first big wind farm above the Arctic Circle. And now we are making this dream come true”.