First in Europe: in the tidal port of Oostende mega turbines (400 tonnes) are unloaded on wheels
On March 23th 2018 the largest and heaviest wind turbine of Siemens was unloaded at the Port of Oostende by roll-on-roll-off on a specially designed loading and unloading pontoon.
After the first parts of the Rentel Windfarm arrived at the REBO terminal in Port of Ostend in mid-February, the technical team had to pull off a difficult feat. The heaviest part of the Siemens 7 MW turbine, the nacelle (20 m long, 9 m wide, 7 m deep, 400 tonnes), arrived 22 March from Cuxhaven (Germany) at the Port of Oostende.
Loading and unloading wind turbine parts is not new for the Port of Oostende. Since 2008 the Port has been active in the offshore wind sector. It is unique that the nacelle is not unloaded by crane, but is driven from the ship Rotra Vente onto the quay, the so-called roll-on-roll-off (roro) principle.
Unique loading and unloading installation
Roro unloading is not an obvious operation in a tidal port like Oostende. The Port of Oostende has therefore invested in a floating loading and unloading installation with a loading capacity of no less than 650 tonnes. The floating pontoon with the connecting bridge (60 m long) to the quay can deal with the average tidal difference of 4.5 metres. So it is possible to load and unload almost independently of the tide.
Never before a load of such size and weight has been unloaded in a tidal port. The installation in Oostende is therefore unique in Europe.
This highly efficient operation saves a lot of time and different nacelles can easily be unloaded one after the other. 1 nacelle weighs no less than 400 tonnes, which is equal to about 40 city buses. The total organization of unloading 1 nacelle takes about 1 hour, but the rolling off operation takes only 10 minutes. For rolling off the cargo, SPMTs*, equipped with 12 axles and 48 wheels are slid under the nacelle. (* SPMTs: Self-propelled modular towers)
With this new loading and unloading installation, the Port of Oostende is yet another step ahead of the other European tidal ports. In this way, the port continues to monitor its market position in the offshore wind market.