Near the small town of Ulrichen am Griessee in the Swiss canton of Valais, SwissWinds Development has erected the highest-positioned wind power plant in Europe, the company said. A major achievement at 2,465 meters above sea level, the wind components were hauled using equipment from Scheuerle Fahrzeugfabrik.
The topping-out ceremony for the wind power station was held in late September. After the test phase, which will last for several months, the plant will generate three gigawatt hours per year, enough to supply around 800 households.
The biggest challenge of this project was the transportation of the individual plant components to the assembly site located at 2,500 meters above sea level. This included negotiating Central Switzerland´s highest mountain pass, the Nufenen Pass.
Transports were carried out by Voser Transport AG from Neuenhof. The 35 meter long rotor blades began their journey in All'Aqua and then had to travel along the entire narrow and winding Nufenen Pass. There were nine hairpin bends with turning radii of only 15 meters on the route.
"No other transport vehicle would have been able to better cope with this extreme transport assignment to our assembly area," said Martin Stromeier, site manager for SwissWinds Development. "This is a reference to the special Scheuerle InterCombi combination complete with blade adapter which has been designed to meet the requirements of transporting wind power plant components to assembly areas that are difficult to access."
Stromeier explained that the hauling involved an extremely compact 4-axle InterCombi semi-trailer combination with slab deck on which a blade adapter with lifting and lowering device is mounted.
In tight bends, the lifting and lowering function moves one side of the blade upwards by means of a radio transmitter so that the tip of the blade points upward at an angle of up to 23 degrees, and in so doing, "floats" over obstacles.
The lifting and lowering device can also be mounted on a self-propelled 6-axle InterCombi SP. With this transport system, concrete tower half-shell sections and tower segments of the Enercon hybrid tower construction were transported 800 meters from the front area of the intermediate storage facility to the final assembly point. A gravel road with a 15 percent slope had to be negotiated as well.
"It took us two hours for the first transport," says Marcel Heimgartner of Voser Transport AG. "However, when we finally moved the nacelle up to the assembly area, we only needed 15 minutes. Once you have warmed up, things are done pretty quickly."
Martin Senn of SwissWinds and Andrew Sulser of Voser came up with the idea for this project in 2009. The ensuing vehicle concept from Scheuerle Fahrzeugfabrik convinced all project participants and the order was placed shortly after, the company said. In June 2011, construction of the foundations began. According SwissWinds, the plant will go online in early 2012.
Markus Binder of Voser Transport AG says that traction improved with the heavier loads.
"We have found that traction improved more and more as the weight of the transport increased," he says. "No wonder with a maximum payload of 200 tonnes. As a result, we could deal with the 17 percent gradient with no problems whatsoever."