A rough economic climate and severe weather conditions have combined to slow some traditional trade at U.S. ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway System (SLSS), but an uptick in wind turbine component shipments has helped to keep total cargo shipments for the period from March 22 to July 31 virtually flat over the same period last year.
According to Marine Delivers, a collaboration that aims to demonstrate the positive economic and environmental benefits, safety, energy efficiency and sustainability of the shipping industry throughout the Great Lakes-Seaway System, reports that year-to-date total cargo shipments in ports along the SLSS totaled 17.1 million metric tons.
The mass shipping of wind turbine components leading up to the production tax credit's in-service deadline has played a role in the increase in wind turbine component shipments, Marine Delivers says. In particular, the Port of Duluth (Minn.) has received a flood of wind-energy-related components.
"The Port Authority's break bulk terminal in the Port of Duluth-Superior has seen a surge in project cargoes this summer," explains Adolph Ojard, executive director. "We've handled nearly a dozen shipments of wind turbine components (nacelles, hubs and blades), plus multiple shiploads of domestically manufactured blades being exported to Brazil.
"The surge, while partly attributable to the rush to finish wind projects before production tax credits expire, has also brought to Duluth a variety of other break-bulk cargoes – including huge steam/gas turbines and generators, mining machinery and other heavy-lift equipment for projects across the Midwest and Canada," he adds.
Meanwhile, recent project cargo shipments at Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor included wind turbines and the world's largest crawler. The first of its kind, the crane weighs 1.65 million pounds, has a lifting capacity of 3,000 tons and stands 473 feet tall with its boom fully extended. Built by Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH in Ehingen, Germany, it was shipped in 190 pieces from Westdorpe, Netherlands on the MV Elandsgracht.