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Transportation focus: moving with the times

As the wind industry maintains and develops on its past successes, the problem of transporting a huge amount of equipment across thousands of miles is one which cannot be ignored. So, what is the state of the industry’s transportation business? Moving wind turbine components from the factory floor to the project site is no easy task, involving, as it does, the handling of sensitive and valuable components. PES investigates …

According to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the US continues to expand its wind power industry to create jobs, business opportunities, clean air and energy security. The report says the country’s wind energy industry installed more than10,000 MW of new wind power generating capacity in 2009, the largest year in US history and sufficient to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants. Some 36 states now have utility-scale wind projects and 14 states are in the ‘Gigawatt Club’ with more than 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity per state. All 50 states have jobs in the wind industry, the optimistic report says, with Iowa leading in terms of percentage of electricity from wind power, getting 14 per cent of its power from the wind. The state also leads in highest number of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Texas consolidated its lead in wind capacity and in the largest number of wind farms installed.

So, with such a successful and growing industry, how do we move a massive amount of components around the North American continent and what are the most green, energy-efficient methods of transportation? Moving wind turbine components from the factory floor to the project site is no easy task, involving components that can weigh several tons and extend well over 100 ft in length. The rapid growth of the wind energy industry has contributed to transportation and logistics challenges facing manufacturers and developers. But, on the other hand, it is also creating business opportunities for those with expertise in these areas, including logistics providers, truck trailer and rail car manufacturers, railroads and train crews, trucking companies and drivers, port operators, and barge and ocean vessel owners and crews, among others.


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