The Port of Duluth-Superior, which has been emerging as a key link in the wind energy supply chain worldwide, marks another milestone this week as the Dutch-flagged cargo ship Flinterland, loaded with 54 wind turbine blades manufactured here in North America, heads to the port of Suape, Brazil. In September – along with blades, rotors and hub sets from other offshore destinations – these 37-meter blades will become part of the first units assembled at IMPSA Wind’s new $90 million wind generator manufacturing plant.
“While this port has handled dozens of shipments to and from other European and South American ports, this is the first shipment of blades to Brazil,” notes Jonathan Lamb, Vice President, Operations at Lake Superior Warehousing Co., terminal operator for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “We are well positioned to serve the wind industry, both importing from and exporting beyond North America. We appreciate having had the privilege of working with the professionals at TransGroup Worldwide Logistics, freight forwarder on this and other wind cargo shipments we’ve handled. They have become a great ocean partner of ours.”
Those 54 blades were trucked to Duluth earlier this summer, where crews from Lake Superior Warehousing assembled the blades into stackable transport frames. “They do great work up there (in Duluth),” says Susan St. Germain, Director of Projects at TransGroup. “Because of LSW’s expertise and willingness to assemble those frames onsite, we were able to put two, 37-meter blades on each truck from the factory…which saved money and cut our carbon footprint in half, a strategy important to our company and to IMPSA, both deeply committed to implementing green initiatives in all operations.”
TransGroup is coordinating transportation logistics for all IMPSA shipments of wind components from a multitude of global sources into Suape, a bustling, multi-modal port in northern Brazil. IMPSA is a global leader in providing power generation from renewable resources. “Wind is at the forefront of IMPSA’s interest. The company has made a huge commitment to the growing Brazilian wind market,” reports Jerry Katz, Executive Director of IMPSA Wind-Recife. “This is the first of a four-phase implementation plan in Suape. We’ll see how the wind energy market continues to develop. We expect to expand this plant into a machining and fabrication center that will eventually build towers and even blades onsite in the not-too-distant future. There will be 280 people working here this fall with the potential of 1500 employees if and when all four phases are complete. Concurrently, IMPSA Energy is building 318 MW in wind parks over the next two years, which will bring IMPSA’s investment in Brazil to over $1 billion.”
The wind energy market is a tremendous growth industry worldwide – growing 25-30% each year. An expanse of freight forwarders and manufacturers have now identified the Port of Duluth-Superior as a strategic cargo handling center – a transshipment hub for wind turbine blades, nacelles, hubs, and towers. “Having professional, experienced crews here in Duluth ensures that these huge, heavy and fragile components are loaded and unloaded safely and efficiently,” says Lamb. “And having recently leased additional waterfront property further expands our terminal’s laydown capacity.”
The blades for Brazil will be loaded aboard the Flinterland Wed./Thurs., Aug. 27-28. The vessel is expected to depart Thursday evening with an estimated arrival date in Suape of Sept. 18. “It’s great to welcome a Flinter vessel back to Duluth,” added Lamb. “Flinter is an excellent marine carrier with a solid reputation.” Flinter manages and operates a fleet of modern cargo-ships with capacities of up to 10,000 metric tons. They specialize in project cargoes, excelling in the field of heavy transport for the oil-, gas- and wind-energy industries as well as tunnel- and road construction, mining and offshore industries.
“Loading 54 blades on this vessel succeeded by the cooperation of all parties involved – TransGroup, stev