Australia, Renewables

Bespoke cranes for bespoke wind farms

Bespoke crane options by XCMG are designed to account for larger turbines.

Wind farms are set to play a vital role in the world’s transition to a net-zero future.

According to the International Energy Agency, the world was adding 114 gigawatts (GW) of electricity to the global supply of energy per year, as of 2020.

But much more needs to be done.

To reach the target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the world will need to be adding 350GW of electricity powered by wind farms per year.

To achieve these lofty targets, wind farms must increase in size and wind turbines must get bigger and increase their output.

Some plans are already in place. For example, global renewable energy company Vestas has released a wind turbine design that features a hub height of 199m and produces 7.2 megawatts (MW) of electricity that will be available to the market by 2025.

But the need for bigger turbines means the need for bigger machinery and, with wind power output having increased drastically in China, which in installing 328.48GW in 2021 alone, the country is producing some of the world’s most wind-farm-adept machinery.

According to XCMG’s ANZ Crane Manager Stephen Broomfield, the mass of large wind turbines being produced in China is reflective of the “bespoke” machinery being designed to accommodate larger wind farms.

“China has identified a gap in the market, and XCMG has moved quickly to act, to fill that void, and develop machines that can take us to net-zero by 2050,” he said.

As such, XCMG is developing its own equipment to suit this growth.

“We’re designing our cranes in line with wind farm manufacturers to produce specific cranes that align with the new wind farm technology that is moving forward at a rapid rate,” Broomfield said.

The XCC2600 working on a wind farm in China. Image: XCMG.

Evidence of this can be seen in the Chinese manufacturer’s design of a tower crane to accommodate larger wind farms. The electric-powered XGL1800 possesses a maximum lifting capacity of 138 tonnes, a maximum working range of 60m – at which it can lift 11.5 tonnes – and a maximum free-standing height of 114.5m.

The benefits of using the tower crane aren’t just limited to its specs, however. The compact nature of the machine means it exerts minimal ground pressure that, in tandem with its capacity to be powered electrically, results in a much smaller environmental footprint.

Furthermore, the XGL1800 can also be fully erected to its maximum height in 24 hours, while only requiring 18 hours to dismantle, making it easier and quicker to navigate a jobsite. And with a reduced need for support trucks and personnel comes financial savings and environmental benefits.

“The costs associated with powering a generator to then power a crane are minimal when compared to powering a crawler crane or a mobile crane,” Broomfield said.

“These tower cranes are bespoke machinery to accommodate the demand for taller turbines, and XCMG has delivered.”

XCMG hasn’t just limited itself to producing tower cranes for wind farm construction and maintenance.

Two other machines developed by the Chinese manufacturer that fit the bill are the XCC2000 and XCC2600, narrow track crawler cranes that don’t quite fit the definition of a telescopic crawler crane but possess telescopic booms and are driven on crawler tracks.

XCMG specifically designed the XCC2000 to be a wind power crane. Possessing a maximum main boom length of 81.4m and extensions providing the crane with a maximum hoisting height of 150m, the narrow track crawler crane is the largest telescopic wind power crane China has exported to date.

Utilising its wind tower jib extension, the crane can lift over 130 tonnes at heights of 145m, while also possessing a narrow chassis of 4.5m.

The narrow chassis of the XCC2600 and XCC2000 helps navigate tighter, more compact jobsites. Image: XCMG.

The XCC2600, on the other hand, features a maximum capacity of 500 tonnes at a radius of 3m, a main telescopic boom of 82m, and a maximum hook height of 173m using its wind tower jib extension.

Also possessing a narrow chassis of just 4.5m, Broomfield said the cranes’ high lifting capacities, long reach and compact dimensions, to name a few, mean the machines thrive in wind farm environments.

This was recently evinced by the XCC2000’s performance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where it erected 20 wind turbines for an 84MW wind farm in Livno. The crane overcame challenging conditions at 1500m above sea level during Bosnia’s winter – a period notorious for its strong winds and unpredictable weather.

For Broomfield, the two bottom-slewing, telescopic crawler cranes are reflective of XCMG’s commitment to providing the market with alternative options.

“The main goal is to continue providing solutions outside of the conventional options,” he said. “Rather than tell wind farm developers that it can’t be done, we want to ask them how high they need to go.”

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This article featured in the February edition of ecogeneration. 

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