Global Wind Service (GWS) is a Danish company specialising in building wind-turbine farms - a power-generation technology that originated in Denmark in the 1970s. GWS installs, tests and maintains these turbines all over the world and in May, 2018 the company started building a 37-turbine wind farm at Badgingarra, WA, for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. The wind farm is owned by APA group and on completion it will power more than 115,000 homes with green energy, saving more than 420,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Badgingarra is a very small town consisting of one roadhouse, 210 kilometres north of Perth on the highway to Geraldton. The isolation presented problems to GWS because of the lack of power to the wind-turbine site, the absence of mechanical facilities and the lack of water and accommodation. The GWS team needed to bring large cranes into the area, and install substantial plant on-site. The wind-turbine towers are 85 metres high and on the top of them sits a 132-tonne nacelle that houses the generator, gearbox, drive train and braking mechanism. Together, tower and nacelle weigh 300 tonnes and as well as a transport project to bring them from the port, significant rigging equipment was required to install them.
GWS Lead Site Manager for Australia, Michael Bialaska Kristensen, says there were many challenges in building 37 wind-turbine towers in the WA bush.
“The transport was difficult because we needed special permits from the government but we couldn't always get them because of the country roads we were transporting on. It was also a wet winter and there were times when the roads could not support our trucks.”
He says the winds were also high - the reason for building the wind farm in such a location - and he says GWS does not perform installation when the wind is over 7 knots. To finish on deadline, the crews were reorganised to start work in the early hours of the morning when it was calm, and work until 9am when the wind began.
“That’s why we needed so many light towers from Coates Hire,” says Bialaska Kristensen. “They really supported us, with all the equipment and repairs and switching-out broken gear. To keep us on deadline we need companies that can support us, even out in the wild.”
Dave Maeder, Coates Hire Account Manager - Midwest, WA, says Coates Hire supplied a fleet of generators (5, 20, 30, 40, 60 and 80kva), knuckle booms, telehandlers, a site office container, extension leads, distribution boards and multiple 3000psi water blasters.
Maeder says Coates Hire worked with GWS to inform the Danish company about the challenges of working remotely in WA. “If you travel 250 kilometres from a European city, you still have electricity, water and paved roads. That’s not necessarily the case out here.”
He says simple things such as transport are expensive in WA because of the long distances travelled as well as the difficultly of the climate and terrain. “The GWS people came to understand how hard it is to do basic things when it starts raining out in the bush. The tracks don’t cater to high volumes of heavy vehicles – everything is about the mud.”
The mud also affected the installation sites and the wind turbines, so Coates Hire supplied a fleet of 3000psi water blasters which needed extra long hoses. “We had to find 50-metre hoses for the water blasters and they required full pressure at the nozzle, so we needed to do some engineering and testing before we supplied them.”
Maeder says hire equipment supplied in remote areas has to be in excellent condition and supported with service and maintenance.
“With the heat and dust and mud, the equipment can take a hammering. So we supplied the same brands across product lines, and held a supply of V-belts, filters and oils with our service crews, who were on standby for GWS.”
Maeder says supporting the renewables industry is a specialty for Coates Hire and along with the best gear, the customer needs support. For instance, he says the GWS workers had to be schooled in driving, and not just in mud.
“We told them not to drive at dusk or dawn because of the kangaroos,” says Maeder.
Bialaska Kristensen says GWS has a large slate of work in Australia, including projects in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. “We’re using Coates Hire in all of those projects. We’re under very tight deadlines, in challenging environments, and there are times when equipment has to be supplied or fixed very quickly. We need a company that is more like a partner than just a hire company, and Coates Hire is that for us.”