Transportation & Logistics

Transportation and logistics impact wind project costs, turbine engineering

Transportation is a critical part of the logistics and cost structure of a wind project, and is one of the reasons the United States has shifted dramatically toward domestic manufacturing. The costs associated with transportation and logistics of the large, heavy components of wind turbines make it desirable for turbine and component manufacturers to set up shop as close as possible to the ultimate point of turbine delivery to improve competitiveness. In addition to other factors, transportation and logistics is one of the main reasons domestic content of wind turbines installed in the United States has grown to 67 percent with over 550 manufacturing facilities around the country supplying components to the wind industry.

Get informed: key transportation issues

Permitting harmonization

Manufactured components from one state are frequently delivered to projects in other states, and efficient transportation is hampered by differing state permitting rules for oversize, overweight loads. These differences may be as small as different colored flagging required on loads. Harmonizing permit rules among key states can reduce the time and cost of highway transportation.

Increasing size of components (blades, nacelles, tower sections)/manufacturers guide

Longer blades, heavier nacelles, and tower sections of greater diameter required advanced planning on a project-by-project basis, and close cooperation between transportation and logistics providers, turbine manufacturers, and state and federal agencies is critical. Transportation and third party logistics providers are looking to work more closely with manufacturers to ensure that efficient and cost-effective solutions are available.

To that end, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Transportation and Logistics Working Group is currently drafting an Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Guide that will allow the research and development and engineering teams of turbine manufacturers to understand and work within existing transportation constraints.

Driver Shortages

Transporting wind turbine components (often considered “super loads”) from manufacturing facilities to project sites requires drivers who have completed highly specialized training. Transportation companies report a bottleneck as the number of loads is increasing faster than new drivers can be recruited and trained.