Enhancing Wind Turbine Blade Transportation: A Route Appraisal

As part of the latest ‘Climate Action Plan 2023’ the demand for wind turbines to generate clean energy is on the rise. Recently, the ORS Infrastructure Team undertook a pivotal project focused role on evaluating the optimal Turbine Delivery Route to transport a 79.35m long wind turbine blade from Rosslare Europort to its destination in Co. Wicklow.

Provided with the client’s route preferences and acknowledging that this type of load demands great precision, our analysis took the form of a desktop study, using Google aerial photography ortho-rectified to ITM coordinates. To confirm our desktop study findings, we drove the route recording dashcam footage.

Due to the special nature of the load, a Nooteboom Super Wing Carrier was selected provisionally and formed the basis for our Autotrack profile for vehicle modelling of the route. Autotrack Vehicle Swept Path analysis software was used to determine the wheel track and overhang of the turbine blade for each critical location along the route. Using this model and a typical clearance corridor for the blade, we analysed the route pinpointing locations which would require further investigation. ORS also liaised directly with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to determine if overpasses on the National and Motorway network presented any constraints on the delivery of the turbine blades.

There were several challenges along the route, one challenge being the preferred route by the client through Bunclody. Due to the constrained nature of the towns layout, compounded by the total length of the transport (exceeding 90m, inclusive of the tractor unit), prompted us to model this area in detail.

Auto track of one of the pinch points identified during desktop and drive through route appraisal.

The analysis revealed that the manoeuvre was infeasible for a transport of that length. Additionally, exiting the town over the town bridge could not be completed. Two alternative manoeuvres were explored, one of which was reversing and the other going around the Market Square, both of which also proved unviable. As a result, this route was deemed not feasible. The route appraisal was continued to the delivery site for completeness and identified narrow bridges and 4 kilometres of local roads that would have to be widened.

Our reporting structure integrated interactive links, a colour coding system, and photographs so that our client could visually identify major concerns and what these entailed i.e., land acquisition for road widening, impediments posed by buildings/structures along the route, and the corresponding required actions.

Identifying Opportunities: The ORS Team Takes the Initiative

The ORS Infrastructure team proactively set out to identify solutions to our clients problem. In the process, while the selected route presented challenges, we uncovered two promising alternatives originating from Waterford Port and Rosslare Port. These alternatives weren’t merely options; they were carefully evaluated to ensure their feasibility. With thorough assessments in hand, we confidently presented these alternatives to our client, inviting their input and review. It’s not just about finding answers; it’s about providing our clients with a range of solutions to choose from, tailored to their needs and preferences.

Ready to Lead the Way: ORS Experience in Route Appraisal for Transport Projects

Our strength lies in a multidisciplinary approach — where civil engineering, road safety, quality assurance, and surveying converge seamlessly. Our experience in transportation planning, design and safety auditing can help your project in identifying best practices in design, managing public road interactions, signage, and wayfinding.

For deeper insights into our Route Appraisal for Transport Projects, connect with our infrastructure team at info@ors.ie.

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