Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas is testing out a new strategy to cut costs, time and emissions: transporting wind turbine blades by rail.
The company is partnering with logistics provider SNCF Geodis to transport up to nine 55-meter-long blades at a time by train.
According to Vestas, this is one of the first blade-by-train transports in Europe and consists of nine blades for Vestas' V112-3.0 MW turbine. The blades traveled from Vestas' blade factory in Lauchhammer, Germany, to the port of Esbjerg, Denmark. The train of cars had a total length of almost 700 meters, underlining the sheer size of this massive logistical challenge.
Vestas says that in addition to being cost-effective and environmentally friendly, rail transport is faster. For instance, it takes one locomotive 20 hours to transport nine 55-meter blades from Lauchhammer to Esbjerg, whereas by road, it would take nine trucks and 18 pilot cars 36 hours to cover the same distance.
In Europe, railway transportation of blades is still in its early stages, but Vestas expects to reduce costs by 10% to 15% compared to transport by road. Likewise, carbon dioxide emissions from rail transport are just one-third of what they would have been if road transport were used.
Going forward, SNCF Geodis and Vestas plan to design rail connections between other Vestas' facilities in Europe.