As European heavy transport and crane rental companies become increasingly concerned about safety during the delivery and erection of onshore wind turbines, leading industry figures are calling on developers and turbine manufacturers to join them in discussions about how standards can be raised and major incidents avoided.
The move is being led by the European Association for Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes, or ESTA, with support from the European Materials Handling Federation, or FEM.
“Just a few years ago, using large cranes to the maximum of their capabilities was not seen every day. Now it is commonplace, and we have all read about or seen accidents involving very large cranes, especially when used to erect wind turbines,” said ESTA Director Søren Jansen.
Industry experts privately estimate that there are two accidents a month, and fear the situation will get worse.
Jansen added the industry is facing a lot of challenges in this sector when erecting the wind turbines due to the increase of hub heights, and the size and weight of the turbines.
“What’s more, turbine manufacturers are now talking about hub heights up to 200 meters or ever higher,” he said.
Ground conditions, quality of access roads and manufacturer’s requirements, which vary from firm to firm, also present challenges for transport companies.
“ESTA will be lobbying for common standards among the turbine manufacturers regarding ground conditions, access roads and their transportation requirements,” said ESTA President David Collett.
“We are convinced that such common standards will not just improve safety but result in efficiencies that will benefit the entire supply chain, including the developers and turbine manufacturers themselves,” Collett said.
An ESTA and FEM Experts Summit focused on the subject is scheduled in Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 23, 2017. Called “New challenges in on-shore wind farm construction – safety, productivity and the supply chain,” the one-day conference and reception will feature industry speakers from across the sector.
The organizers hope the summit will lead to the development of a new best practice guide that will raise standards, boost productivity and reduce the number of accidents. For more information, visit www.estaeurope.eu/summit.
Photo: Wind farm near Lisewo, Poland