By far the most dangerous part of the wind turbine installation process is transportation. Moving 50-yard turbine blade from factories to farms backs up traffic, cuts up roads, and makes accidents deadly. The solution might be a simple one: manufacture turbines on-site. That's what Clipper Windpower, a turbine manufacturer working on a 5,000 megawatt wind farm in South Dakota, might do with its massive project.
Instead of spending cash on fuel and truck drivers, Clipper is considering building a "gypsy plant" to crank out turbine parts for its 2,000 turbines. Such a plant would resemble an industrial tent structure mounted on a flat bed. There are downsides--Clipper would need to hire a new work force, and reliance on a single factory for production might drastically slow things down if something goes wrong. But while nothing is confirmed yet, the sheer size of the South Dakota project seems to justify the construction of a new factory.
Clipper isn't the only renewable energy product manufacturer to toy with the idea of having a production facility next to a project. Spire, a solar manufacturer working on supersized solar panels that measure 5 by 12 feet and produce one kilowatt of power, hopes to build moveable gypsy plants next to its future projects.
[Via Green Inc.]