Wind turbines look like simple structures. A tower of smooth-surfaced steel rising to three blades, similar to a windmill, which spin a shaft connected to a generator, producing electricity.
For InfraBuild’s Launceston Steel Centre, however, the recent construction of 17 wind towers presented a whole set of unique and complex challenges.
In partnership with Hayward’s Steel Fabrication, InfraBuild’s Launceston Steel Centre have recently completed the delivery of the wind towers for the Mortlake Wind Farm in Victoria.
There is a strong, long-standing relationship between InfraBuild Launceston Steel Centre and Haywards. The two businesses have worked together on many large and complex projects, including other wind farms and various other infrastructure projects.
The Mortlake Wind Farm project was one such large, complex project, both logistically and physically. Consisting of 35 wind turbines in total, 18 of which were manufactured by a Victorian-based company, each tower is 104 metres high and weighs approximately 280 tonnes. The steel manufacture and fabrication of the 17 wind towers Steel Centre was involved in, took approximately six months to complete and deliver.
The product supply from Launceston Steel Centre into the project, consisted of various thicknesses of wind tower specific grade plate, ranging from 16 – 58mm. In total, approximately 5,000 tonnes of complex Y bevelled Australian made (BlueScope) plate was supplied by InfraBuild Steel Centre Launceston to fabricator Hayward’s Steel.
According to the Area Manager at Launceston Steel Centre at the time of the project, Aiden Trevan, one of the most difficult aspects of the project was the bevelled edge requirement for the profile cutting of the plate. “There were 22 plate thicknesses, each requiring between one and three hours of testing to get optimal cutting parameters, with a tolerance of +1, -0 millimetres. We had a lot of work to complete before we could start cutting plate”.
Another challenge Aiden explained, was the bottom plates, which at 58 mm thick had to be made in two sections by BlueScope, then joined by the fabricator and processed by InfraBuild.
“When the two plates were joined, they weighed around 20 tonnes each. This meant we had to upgrade the lifting capacity of the site cranes as well as the building structure,” Aiden said.
Another complicating factor was the management of delivery schedules to meet production requirements. This involved many different stakeholders and took a large amount of organisational time. “Supply to an island state presents challenges, especially when delivery and production schedules are critical to the smooth running of a large, complex project.”
The current Area Manager for InfraBuild Steel Centre, David Marshall, explained that the relationship between Hayward’s and Steel Centre Launceston is a ‘true partnership’.
“The relationship is valued very highly and it’s critical that we work closely together. We’ve invested a lot of capital, such as the plate profile and beam line to cope with supply of steel into these types of processing jobs.”
The geographic proximity of Hayward’s to the Launceston Steel Centre business is a major plus. Another factor in the success of the 20+ year relationship is the alignment of the two businesses in their commitment to sustainability and quality in delivering value to customers.
“Haywards”, explained David, “are a preeminent fabricator on large scale infrastructure projects, such as bridges, hospitals, and wind towers, throughout Tasmania as well as the mainland. Their work on wind farm towers and the complexities of fabrication of this type of project is well known. It makes them the fabricator of choice for these projects.”
Mortlake Wind Farm is located on open, cleared land predominantly used for dairy farming around five kilometres south of the Mortlake township, in the Moyne Shire in Victoria. It’s the fifth wind farm for ACCIONA in Australia. ACCIONA is the largest global energy company operating exclusively in the renewable energy sector. The Mortlake Wind Farm will have a total power and battery storage of 157.5MW.
In 2018, the Mortlake South Wind Farm was successful in the Victorian Energy Target (VRET) reverse auction. VRET is the Victorian Government’s legislated target aiming for 25% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020 and 40% by 2025.
Photo credit for all images: ACCIONA
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