The challenges of wind farm transport planning

Author: Leon Leban, CGS Labs, Development and Product Manager

Wind blade transport puts forward many challenges. Considerations need to be made for transportability on bends, through narrow passages, and between obstacles along the road or rail. Although sometimes side roads can be used, the roadway’s load capacity commonly limits the transportability and efficiency of these side roads.

Video: The challenges of wind farm transport planning (5 min.)

These limitations also reflect on the size of wind farms — in general, the length of wind blades that can be transported by road is between 53 m and 62 m, depending on the structural features of the wind blades. The transport of larger supporting structures that are preferable for installing high chairs creates additional challenges. Supporting tower structures are usually limited to a diameter of 4.3 m to 4.6 m, if the transport routes allow so. Despite all these restrictions, towers reaching up to 160 m can indeed be transported.

Image: Option for the inspection of maximum swept path width
is very helpful when analyzing transportation by different access roads.

Another key factor in transportability planning is the analysis of road adequacy and obstacles, for which many transport companies around the world and different wind farm manufacturers use Autopath, a software solution for swept path analysis and vehicle turn simulation. In addition to analyzing the transportability of any transport vehicle for the transport of wind blades and supporting structures, the software solution enables simple import of raster images (Google Maps) that allow analyzing transportation by different access roads to the final destination where windmills are to be installed. Moreover, Autopath software also includes Google Street View, which allows analyzing structures alongside transport routes and route overpass and underpass adequacy, significantly contributing to a more efficient and optimal cost-effective approach to planning the appropriate transportation route.

Image: Autopath vehicle library includes several Goldhofer wind-turbine transport vehicles and trailers. 
User can also precisely design a custom vehicle, trailer or load and set necessary vehicle parameters.

Image: Google Street View feature can be used to visually inspect potential roadside objects
(underpasses, overpasses, side road buildings, signs, bridges, tunnels, portals etc.).

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