November 23, 2009
Construction nears completion on mountaintop wind turbine near Vancouver
The first wind turbine in North America built in an extreme high altitude location is nearing completion on the top of a North Vancouver mountain.
It is expected to supply 25 per cent of the Grouse Mountain Resort’s power and be fully operational by January and will include an observation deck.
“This is the first wind turbine in the world with an elevator,” said Pat Boyle, general manager of Leitner Poma Canada Inc., the Kelowna-based primary contractor on the project.
“We had a lot of trouble finding an elevator company, who was willing to do an installation in a wind turbine.”
Kone Corporation is installing the elevator and power connection with BC Hydro are still being worked out.
Leitner Poma has been building chairlifts at ski resorts for more than 20 years, but this is the first wind turbine it has built.
“The biggest challenge with this project was the location,” said Boyle. “From the top of Mountain Highway, there is a 13 kilometre road. We improved the access road to increase the radius on six corners, so the large pieces could go up the road.”
In mid September, the turbine tower base was transported from the U.S. Border to the back road on Grouse Mountain.
“All the steel components were trucked up the mountain,” he said.
“We weren’t able to bring the turbine blades in by the access road. They had to flown in by helicopter.”
The turbine tower was an over-sized load made up of a hollow steel cylinder that weighed 120,000 lbs and was 65 feet long and 16 feet in diameter.
“We needed special permission to bring this component from the Pacific Highway crossing through Vancouver and to Mountain Highway,” explained Boyle.
A specialized Schnable trailer was required to make tight turns and overcome steep inclines.
The tower section was brought up first, then the generators and the other smaller components.
The viewing pod was assembled on site.
Surespan Construction Ltd. and DLB Cranes Ltd. were hired as the crane rental and heavy-lift specialists for the erection of the tower.
Devlin Fenton, manager of operations with DLB Cranes Ltd., said a Liebherr LR1280 300 ton Crawler, with an operating weight of about 550,000 lbs, was used.
The company also used a Linkbelt ATC3130 all-terrain crane and a Terex RT780 80 ton rough terrain crane for support.
“Getting the components up there was a mammoth job,” said Fenton.
“To get the heavy components up there, two tractors were used to pull the load and a D7 Caterpillar was used to push from the back. We took our time, about four days, to move the crawler crane up the back road on 11 loads.”
Fenton said the set-up was extreme because the whole site was only 100 feet by 140 feet and that included the support crane tower pad, a concrete power station, three blades and the viewing pod that was being assembled.
“Not much space to erect a 300 ton crawler with 300 foot of boom,” he said.
“What made this erection particularly complicated was that every load was a tandem hoist, two cranes working to either rotate or pivot each load into a hoisting orientation.”
By late September, all three tower sections were erected, as well as the wind turbine and blades.
The custom built observation deck, was also lifted into place.
The glassed-in viewing area will hold 37 people at a total elevation of 1,280 metres and will offer breathtaking views of the Lower Mainland.
The foundation for this 65 metres high structure was built by Duro Construction.
“This job was different than other foundations, because of the complexity of the wind forces in a tall structure like that,” said Ueli Liechti, president.
“The actual foundation is anchored by 32 seismic anchor rods, which are 63 mm in diameter and drilled 50 feet into the bedrock. About 150 cubic metres of cement went into the foundation and 15,000 kg of steel.”
Duro Construction flattened out a solid rock knob to create the flat building site with access for concrete trucks and the cranes from Surespan. It also built the electrical control building, with a precast wall and roof system, in one and a half days.
The drilling of the anchors started in September 2008 and the foundation was poured a month later. Construction resumed in April 2009, after the winter ski season.
Contractors on the project:
- Leitwind Ag – Design and supply of wind turbine components
- Leitner Technologies - Construction.
- Leitner Poma of America – Design of mechanical/electrical and assistance with construction/installation.
- Leitner Poma Canada Inc - Design of mechanical/electrical and assistance with construction/installation.
- Sigma Composite – Design and manufacture of ViewPod.
- Kone Corporation – Design, manufacture and installation of elevator.
- Grouse Mountain Resorts Ltd – Host and installation of electrical/mechanical.
- SureSpan Construction Ltd. - Construction.
- DLB Cranes Ltd. – Construction.
- Supreme House Movers – Transportation of blades and middle and top tower sections.
- North Construction Ltd. – Site grading and construction assistance.
- SouthWest Contracting Ltd. – Foundation construction.
- GeoPacific Consultants Ltd. - Design of foundation.
- Duro Construction Ltd. – Construction of tower foundation and electrical control building.
- Eagle West Wind Energy Inc. – Transportation of bottom tower section.
- Canadian Air Crane Ltd. – Helicopter transportation of blades.
- JM Engineering – Design of electrical control building.
- Morrison Hershfield – Design of tower foundation and tower structure.
- LMDG Building Code Consultants – Review of building code concepts for design.
- Robertson Environmental Services Ltd. – Wildife impact studies and reporting.
- Pacific Coast Fire – Design and procurement of fire protection system.
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