The installation of wind-energy farms has grown dramatically the past five years and so has the equipment to install these lines. In the past, contractors have had to make multiple passes to install these lines — until now.
Vermeer Corporation’s experience as a manufacturer of underground installation equipment, has introduced a series of underground products to aid in the installation of wind-energy transmission lines.
“The interest in wind energy and installation of wind-energy farms has grown dramatically in the past five years,” says Mark Cooper, director of specialty excavation for Vermeer. “Vermeer has followed this market closely and worked closely with those involved to develop specialty equipment that enhances the installation efficiency of wind-energy transmission lines.”
One challenge to installing wind-energy transmission lines is the multiple passes required using traditional excavation methods. Vermeer designed the CL80 cable layer attachment to sort, configure and feed three cables, one ground wire, one conduit with fiber optic cable, and one tracer tape. The attachment also places and secures the cables in the specified configuration in the trench — all in one pass.
A series of rollers guide the cables over the machine then feed them into a cable box where they are sorted in the appropriate configuration. On descent into the trench, the cables then begin to align in triangular formation, becoming more tightly knit on approach. The ground wire, conduit and tracer tape are placed on top of the triangular formation as specified.
“The CL80 attachment eliminates the need for one machine to dig the trench and then another to come back and lay and secure the cable,” says Cooper. “A contractor can complete the cable trenching and installation process with just one machine, saving time. The CL80 attaches to the Vermeer COMMANDER line of track tractors equipped with either a trencher boom or bucket-wheel attachment.”
In most cases wind energy farms are positioned in areas to capture the largest volume of wind, which may be some distance from the existing grid. In these cases, contractors and developers are looking for an efficient way to install these transmission lines. To solve this problem, Vermeer has developed a bucket wheel attachment.
The bucket-wheel attachment is ideal for the proficient installation of cross-country transmission lines in soft soils. The attachment is designed to work with the Vermeer T655 Commander 3 tractor. It features a series of buckets that rotate in a circular motion, removing more dirt from the trench than a standard trencher attachment. The bucket-wheel attachment has a cutting width of 22, 24 or 28 inches depending on the size of buckets used.
River or environmentally sensitive area crossings pose many challenges to wind-farm installations, and in these cases, horizontal directional drilling can serve as an easy solution to navigating these areas. Mid-size rigs ranging from 24,000 to 50,000 pounds of thrust and pullback are widely used by wind-farm installation contractors to install transmission lines under rivers, streams and sensitive areas, leaving the natural landscape undisturbed.
“Vermeer has worked closely with the wind-energy industry, listening to their needs and we’ve created solutions to help ease the installation of wind-energy transmission lines,” says Cooper. “Contractors who own a track trencher may find the wind-energy market as another opportunity for increased utilization of their equipment just by adding other attachments.