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Offshore simulation for massive turbines
For once, readers, we will not be starting this story with our cranes for a change. They appear to be fairly well covered in this UpLoad magazine anyway. So let’s start this short report about an exciting site in northern Denmark instead with a person who we can safely describe as a “grey-haired superstar” on this case. A man who appears to have construction site blood running through his arteries – Crane Supervisor Espen Andersen. Andersen, a Danish giant who, at the age of 66, is still extremely dynamic and normally very cheerful, is the jack of all trades in Østerild, a rambling test site for offshore wind turbines. When you leave the metalled road turn off to get to the test site, a barrier stops you going any further. “No problem”, says Espen Andersen: “Just call me. I open.”
Even as a gate keeper, Espen, who is called by his first name by everybody here, is not too bad. In his main job, the likeable Dane, who somehow looks after everything and everyone on the sprawling test site, however, is an absolute professional. Or to be more precise, he is a seasoned expert in all Liebherr crawler cranes, which are regular visitors to Østerild. For decades, he sat in the operator cabs of an enormous number of crane models. He is very familiar with almost all Liebherr mobile cranes from the hundred tonne versions to the LTM 1750-9.1. He has also spent plenty of time with our lattice boom mobile cranes and, of course, Liebherr’s crawler cranes right up to the LR 11350. He first climbed into a crane at the age of 22.
So it will hardly come as a surprise that Espen is the person on the research site who could be described as the crane man. In the role of Crane Supervisor, he coordinates all the hoisting work in Østerild. Since 2015, he has been working for Danish crane contractor BMS Heavy Cranes A/S at this isolated site. This is the place, almost at the northern tip of the Danish mainland, just a few kilometers from the coast at the Skagerrak Strait, the bay in the North Sea which covers Norway, Sweden and Denmark, where manufacturers of wind turbines test their latest developments for generating electricity at sea. Offshore windmills, in other words, as they are called in the vernacular. Danish manufacturer Vestas and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy are present at the site. Nine test fields are currently filled with various different systems. Every one of them is a rather impressive size. Because it is significantly easier to test new turbines on land than at sea, there is high demand for this site. In fact, it has even been extended recently. The operators sought out one of the windiest sites in Denmark at Østerild.
Generator load case
“At the moment we and our cranes are on field number seven, where we are erecting a large wind turbine with a rating of fourteen megawatts and a tower height of 155 meters for Siemens Gamesa”, says Espen. To install what is to date the largest turbine at Østerild, he also ordered the most powerful crawler cranes to come to his site: “We are currently working with two Liebherr LR 11350 cranes, which we have set up for a hook height of 185 meters. Each crane is equipped with the double “PowerBoom” and 380 tonnes of ballast. That enables us to hoist gross loads of up to 350 tonnes up to the 155 meter tower.”
The individual components of the test system look like a major challenge to onlookers. The giant gondola looks enormous, particularly when people are working on it or there is a vehicle standing next to it. The component measures ten meters in height and has a gigantic volume of 800 cubic meters. The largest load case among the components for the colossal turbine for the two powerful hoisting machines from Liebherr, however, is by far the massive generator. “Including the hook block, special yoke and fastening equipment, each crane has a gross load of 176 tonnes”, adds Espen. “With a radius of 32 meters, it means that we are using almost all of the lifting capacity of the two crawler cranes.”
This newly developed turbine with its fourteen megawatts is one of the most powerful that Siemens Gamesa plans to manufacture over the next few years. One hundred of these turbines have been earmarked for a wind farm in the English North Sea. As from 2024, there are plans to install these turbines with a rotor diameter of 222 meters there. First of all, however, the prototype of this impressive windmill still has to turn countless trial rotations at the site in Østerild.
In action around the world for wind power
For this job at the test site, BMS Heavy Cranes went for the most powerful hoisting machines in its gigantic fleet in the form of the LR 11350 crawler cranes. The BMS Group, based in Aalborg, Denmark, is a global player with a workforce of around 1,100 people and a total of around 640 cranes. The majority of them are Liebherr cranes. In 2021 alone, BMS ordered 23 cranes from us with a total capacity of over 7,000 tonnes. Not least because the enterprising company is expanding rapidly. In addition to its normal crane business with outlets throughout Scandinavia, BMS has continued to expand its wind turbine assembly activities throughout the world.
The Danes are active in more than a dozen countries. Including Russia, Australia and the USA. Liebherr LR 11350 cranes are currently working for BMS Heavy Cranes on major wind power projects in Vietnam and Taiwan.
"For this job at the test site, BMS Heavy Cranes went for the most powerful hoisting machines in its gigantic fleet in the form of the LR 11350 crawler cranes. The BMS Group, based in Aalborg, Denmark is a global player with a workforce of around 1100 people and a total of around 640 cranes. The majority of them are Liebherr cranes. In 2021 alone, BMS ordered 23 cranes from us with a total capacity of over 7000 tonnes. Not least because the enterprising company is expanding rapidly. In addition to its normal crane business with outlets throughout Scandinavia, BMS has continued to expand its wind turbine assembly activities throughout the world. The Danes are active in more than a dozen countries. Including Russia, Australia and the USA. Liebherr LR 11350 cranes are currently working for BMS Heavy Cranes on major wind power projects in Vietnam and Taiwan."
Wind – a curse and a blessing alike
“We already had two of our LR 11350 cranes in action here a few years ago”, says Espen. At that time, however, the cranes were dismantling the turbines on their own.” This tandem job by two powerful crawler cranes was an exciting premiere at Østerild.
And in the final assessment, it went like a dream. Everything worked perfectly. Although, the windy weather and its frequent strong gusts proved to be a real challenge both for the installation team and for the team from BMS Heavy Cranes. All too often the wind speed was above nine meters per second, the upper limit for completing hoisting work on the new turbine. “We obviously had a lot of waiting time because of the weather. But,” continues Espen placidly, “the weather conditions here, after all, are the reason why we direct the test turbines here in Østerild in the first place. There is fantastic wind blowing here.”
This article was published in the UpLoad magazine 01 | 2022.