Renew Energy recently completed work on the largest wind turbine project that the company has taken on to date.
Last year, Siemens Gamesa reached out to Renew to inquire whether or not they could help support the company with a repower of a project in central Iowa. The project consisted of 193 Siemens 2.3 megawatt towers which were, on average, close to 13 years old. Needless to say, they were in need of an upgrade. That upgrade was to a Siemens Gamesa 2.9 megawatt tower; a huge increase in efficiency.
The project began in November of 2021, and major component replacements just recently wrapped up.
At our peak, nearly 100 Renew, TP&L, and Airways techs worked on this project, putting in over 160,000 working hours.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this job was the fact that, over the course of the 10-month project, there were zero lost time injuries for Renew.
‘Lost time injuries’ are injuries that take a technician off of the project, either for days, weeks, even hours. With over 100 people working on this project, not one of them missed any time due to injuries sustained at the site.
“A project this size, just statistically, you’re always going to have minor injuries; little hand injuries and things like that,” said Patrick Glenn the General Manager of Construction and Field Services with Renew Energy. “Of course, we strive for zero but some small things do come up. These lost time injuries are really an important metric, upon which we can rate a lot of our success. And we’re really happy to report that after 160,000 working hours, Renew incurred zero lost time injuries, and certainly no fatalities. We just installed our last component and repowered our final turbine. The final rotor went up yesterday.”
The actual work that the project consisted of was vast and varied.
“We were doing offloads of the new components, then we had up-tower teams that were taking down the old rotor and the old nacelle,” Glenn said. “A lot of these towers got a whole new top section. And it varied from tower to tower. Some of them got an adapter, some of them got a whole new top section to accommodate the new nacelle. So we would have our up tower teams and then we would have decommissioning teams that went in ahead of those guys and got the tower ready for crane work; determining cables, maybe draining some oils, disconnecting sensitive components and sensors. Then the crane work would happen with that up tower team, followed up by a recommissioning crew that would come in and clean everything and plug stuff back in and get the tower ready to operate. And then it would get inspected by the asset owner, who made sure that we put everything back together according to their expectations and guidelines.”
There was a lot of work done by the various teams.
“We did have some competition on site,” Glenn stated. “There was another company providing labor support, but we have a good working relationship with them, even though we’re competitors. We did a really good job; I think everyone got along really well and worked well together. There were times where we had to kind of share resources. We helped them some days, they helped us some days. And in a situation where sometimes people don’t work well together, I think that our team down there did a really great job.”
Renew wasn’t just working with their competitor, however. They were also assisted by their sister companies, Airway Services and Transportation Partners and Logistics.
“We did have support from Airway Services and TP&L, in terms of helping us staff this project,” Glenn stated. “We had a couple TP&L guys that came out here and helped out for quite a while. This certainly wasn’t strictly, solely a Renew effort. It really was a collaboration between ourselves and our sister companies that made this project a success. It’s a real testament to the TAKKION brand and just the power that this collaboration and the teamwork amongst our brands brings. It was super cool to have our sister companies on site, just knowing that we’re all working towards the same goal.”
Airways services had also provided some TFA’s to the project, who assisted with oversight, as well as some blade techs.
That goal, Glenn said, was completing the largest technician mobilization project Renew has worked on to date. And the final product was the result of a lot of hard work, from a lot of people.
“Ruben Waldner was our primary point of contact and our primary communication point with Siemens and a lot of the other companies on site,” Glenn shared. “Ruben was supported by some TFA’s that we have working for us; technical field advisors. We were there not only to perform the craft labor- which is the crane work and the decommissioning and the recommissioning and the offload – but Siemens Gamesa also utilized us in an oversite role, where we had separate techs experienced with Siemens towers with a lot of experience that served as technical field advisors. So, it was a unique situation because, usually, Siemens would call us in as TFA’s to oversee other contractors’ work, but we were utilized not only in the construction and the craft labor side, but also in the quality assurance side, too.”
Because of that, Glenn said, there was a lot of teamwork happening on the site.
“Employees that we have who have different specialties were able to kind of look after each other and help each other learn through this process in a way that you don’t usually get if you’re overseeing a competitor or overseeing someone from a different company,” Glenn stated.
The project was also able to utilize local labor workers, which benefited the community and put money, and jobs, back into it.
“Generally, projects of this nature do utilize a lot of local labor,” Glenn revealed. “I know that some of the demolition contractors, as well as the crane company, were reaching out to not only local unions, but also to local laborers, to support the different aspects of the project. In addition to some of the jobs created around here, the revenue that was brought in by these hundreds of technicians across all the different subcontractors and contractors that were on site was, I think, a major boom to their local economy during the last year. I couldn’t begin to estimate the exact amount, but it no doubt came as a huge boost to the local hotels, restaurants, gas stations and local vendors.”
“I know the hardware stores made out pretty good,” Glenn laughed.
Enormous projects like these always benefit the communities of which they are a part, and this project was no different. That’s just one of the reasons why Renew was chosen to work on this project. There were many other reasons, as well; not the least of which is the vast amount of experience that the Renew team has.
“It would be hard to quantify the years and years of experience that is shared amongst the team that was there,” Glenn stated. “It has to be a hundred people. We’re talking about, probably, hundreds of years of experience that we can bring to the table. And then, just the capacity to support a mobilization like this, with over a hundred people all needing transportation to and from work, and all of the logistics that go into supporting a workforce of this size in these remote parts of the country. I think Siemens knew that we could provide them with the workforce that was experienced and well-managed, well-mannered, professional and, more than anything, safe and capable.”
Renew, as well as its sister companies, has proven itself to be more than capable, in any situation, with any project. This project in particular, the largest project Renew has completed, is just further proof of that.
“It was just a really great effort,” Glenn said. “It was a really large effort. There were a lot of people that put in a lot of really great work. Our commitment to safety was one of the shining points on this project. We brought in our own safety professionals to oversee our team, in addition to about a half dozen onsite safety people that Siemens Gamesa had on site. Our commitment to safety and quality was such that we opted to have our own onsite, full-time safety personnel there, just to make sure that we did everything right.”