The UK’s largest onshore windfarm – ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee Windfarm – has become the first site anywhere in Europe to use revolutionary crane technology developed by LiftWerx, with the successful replacement of gearboxes on two wind turbines.
Designed for swift assembly/disassembly, the innovative ‘Uptower’ crane technology was chosen by ScottishPower because of the enhanced safety, environmental and operational benefits it offers over conventional ground-based cranes.
These include fixed mounting of the cranes in the turbine, making it impossible for the cranes to fall over and making them independent of ground conditions; the need for a minimal amount of equipment and transportation requirements, resulting in reduced road risk; shorter boom lengths and remote controls on the crane offering better visibility and safety for crane operation; reduced potential for fuel spillage; significant reduction in carbon footprint due to electrical operation; and improved operational availability due to higher operational wind speed capability.
Joe Mitchell, Operations and Maintenance Director for ScottishPower Renewables, said: “The Uptower crane is an incredible piece of kit – truly impressive and extremely innovative – and we’re very proud to be the first company to test this technology anywhere in Europe. Innovations like this play a critical role in developing safer and more cost-efficient solutions in renewables operations and maintenance.
“It was amazing to see the crane in action and, from an operational perspective, particularly exciting to be able to progress the works safely when wind speeds increased above the normal parameters for using ground-based cranes. This meant less exposure to the vagaries of the weather and that’s a real game-changer for the industry.
“We’re focused on getting the most homegrown, green electricity out of our windfarms and we’re already speaking to LiftWerx about next steps and other opportunities to make use of this latest technology, so we can continue to do just that.”
Eelko May, Managing Director at LiftWerx, said: “We are proud and excited to have completed these turnkey major component exchanges for ScottishPower as a first in Europe. This project marks the start of our UK and Europe-wide on and offshore operations and we are grateful for ScottishPower’s innovative and ambitious outlook, which has given us the opportunity to show just what this technology can do.
“This is what takes our industry to the next level, reducing the cost of renewable energy and making our society more sustainable. We look forward to working with ScottishPower again in the near future.”