Sarens Involved in Maintenance Works at Whitla Wind Facility in Alberta


Published Jan 14, 2024 2:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

[By: Sarens]

This windfarm, which last phase was commissioned in 2021, is capable of avoiding more than one million tons of CO2 per year which would have been produced by fossil fuel power generation, equivalent to taking more than 200,000 vehicles off the road.

Sarens worked on the assembly and disassembly of blades, rotors, gearboxes and main shafts to ensure the correct operation of the wind turbines.

Sarens has extensive experience in wind farm maintenance in Canada, having worked on the Golden South Wind Project in Assiniboia and the Blue Hill Project in Saskatchewan, among others.

Sarens, world leader in heavy lifting, engineered transport and crane rental services, has worked on the maintenance maneuvers at the Whitla Wind facility, the largest in Alberta. In this case, Sarens’ engineering team was in charge of  the lifting of the blades, rotors, gearboxes and main shafts  for four turbines (T-79, T-89, T-91 and T-7).  The hub height of each tower is measured at 105 meters and the average weight of the components came in at 31 tons.

This wind farm has an installed capacity of 352.8 MW, which allows it to generate enough energy to power more than 100,000 homes per year. Located in Forty Mile County, it consists of 98 Vestas V136 wind turbines of 3.6 MW each, with a hub height of 105 meters and a rotor diameter of 136 meters. According to Capital Power, the company that owns and operates the project, Whitla Wind will prevent the emission of more than one million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to taking more than 200,000 vehicles off the road.

The Whitla Wind project contributes to Canada's efforts to transition to cleaner, low-carbon energy, so it’s therefore particularly important to keep your energy production stable by reducing breakdowns through proper maintenance. For this reason, Vestas commissioned Sarens to lead the logistical maneuvers of transport - via Sarens Trucking from Pincher Creek, AB  - and the lifting and lowering of the various parts to reduce downtime and optimize the energy production of the facilities. 

Taking into account the variables to be considered such as component weight, tower height and access for machinery assembly, the Sarens team of experts selected the Demag CC 2800 Crawler Crane  configured with 108m Main Boom, 12m Luffing Jib, 120Te Main CWT, 20Te Carbody CWT, and 110Te Superlift CWT.  This crane was selected because of the height of the towers as this particular configuration  would allow for a boom tip height of 120 meters while remaining under 75% of the crane’s lifting capacity. 

The Whitla plant uses state-of-the-art wind turbines, designed to optimize the utilization of the wind resource while reducing noise and wear and tear. The turbines are connected to an electrical substation, from where the power is transmitted to the provincial grid via a 240 kV, 34 km high voltage line. The project has a remote control  supervision system, which allows the turbines to be monitored and operated from a centralized control center, ensuring safe and efficient operation. The project has been developed in several phases, with the first phase coming into commercial operation on December 1st 2019 and phases 2 and 3 on 1 December 1st 2021.

Sarens has a long history of developing wind projects in Canada. These include the Golden South Wind Project in Assiniboia and the Blue Hill Project in Saskatchewan. In the latter case, Sarens contributed to the transport and erection of 50 wind turbines at their final destination. This facility will be responsible for generating up to 200MW of renewable energy, and will bring an economic impact of over $45M to its community.

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