Pacific Northwest seaports prepared for wind energy shipments

By: | Issue #638 | at 08:09 AM | Channel(s): Maritime  Breakbulk  Energy  Alternative  

Pacific Northwest seaports prepared for wind energy shipments

The Pacific Northwest seaports are vying for new project cargo business from their specialized labor, new heavy lift equipment and seamless transport connections. Imported wind energy components are a growing opportunity for the Port of Vancouver USA and Port of Longview on the Columbia River and for Port of Olympia on the Salish Sea. The United States Congress extended the Production Tax Credit, which will propel the wind farm industry for years.  Transportation and logistics companies will find new business from the construction of new wind farms and by refurbishing capacity of existing sites across the United States. 

Port of Vancouver USA is located 106 river miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River and stretches across 2,100 acres of marine and industrial development. Through the first six months of this year, windmill project cargo was a top category accounting for 11 million metric tons after steel, 290 tons and automobiles, 66.5 tons according from industry reports.  The port has over fifteen years experience handling wind energy project cargo and each project is unique.  “The port has maintained our status as one of the highest volume and most productive deep water ports on the United States West Coast for wind energy handling,” said Alistair Smith, chief marketing/sales officer, for the Port of Vancouver USA in a recent interview with the American Journal of Transportation.

Project volumes range from a few wind turbine generators to over one hundred.  Components imported are the towers that range from 3 to 5 sections, the 213 feet (65 meters) blades and nacelles. Blades arrive from Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and China and nacelles are manufactured in Europe. 

Advanced planning is involved as the wind energy components become larger from manufacturers. Destinations and clearance issues through the terminal and inland modes are resolved before the shipment arrives. “Details are often coordinated with third party freight forwarders and sometimes directly with the original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Strong communications with the OEM, stevedores, labor and inland transportation providers is a must,” said Smith. 

The efficient and safe handling of wind energy project cargo is essential to meet customer destinations in the Pacific Northwest, Montana, Kansas, Illinois and western Canada.  Both the port and stevedores, Jones Stevedoring and Ports America invested in equipment and specialized training to make smooth shipments possible. The port has two Liebherr mobile harbor cranes with 140-metric ton lifting capacity or 210-metric tons in tandem. Other specialized equipment for wind projects includes: onsite expandable trailers and yard equipment along with 100 acres of laydown space for shippers to perform inspections.  Both stevedore companies invested in extended yard trailers, reach-stackers, Schnabel trucks and other project specific equipment to efficiently move project cargo off the docks to waiting trucks or railcars…

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American Journal of Transportation