The area encompassing EDF EN Canada’s 150 MW Lac Alfred wind farm, located in Quebec’s Bas-Saint-Laurent region, totals 130 km. In fact, the site is so large that traveling between the wind farm’s farthest turbines can take two hours. It may seem like such a vast expanse would provide ample room for establishing staging areas and laydown space. However, because of the site’s mountainous terrain and heavily forested landscape, crews had little margin for error.
Ricardo Portillo, site manager for the Lac Alfred project, recalls that the pre-construction phase was an exercise in planning and logistics. He says more than 350 workers helped to clear the site, build the access roads and establish the laydown areas needed for the arrival of the turbine components.
“We had dedicated teams responsible for each area,” Portillo explains. One team was responsible for unloading the components, and another was responsible for the electrical work done before the tower was erected, such as installing the converter and attaching the busbar and cables.
“The complexity of the level of coordination was the biggest challenge,” Portillo continues. “There was heavy machinery going and coming – delivery of materials, including re-bars, concrete, tower sections and electrical cables – and construction of access roads, all at the same time.”
Portillo stresses the significance of considering all of these components. “All of the job functions have to be taken into account,” he explains. “If you delay one team, then everyone else gets delayed.”
The construction team also had to deal with subzero temperatures, which, along with high winds, played a role in curtailing construction activities. “We typically work a five-day schedule,” Portillo says. “On days with high winds, we worked on weekends to maintain the schedule.”
The first phase of the Lac Alfred project features 75 REpower MM82 wind turbines, which include a cold-climate package made with regionally manufactured blades, towers and converters. The second phase of the wind farm – an additional 150 MW – is currently under way and is scheduled for completion in December.
Typically, a project as massive and complex as Lac Alfred would be enough to keep any developer busy. However, the Lac Alfred project is just one of several projects that EDF EN and REpower Systems are building in Quebec.
Last October, EDF EN Canada commissioned the Saint-Robert-Bellarmin project, an 80 MW wind farm located on the Canadian border between the cities of Lac-Megantic and Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, and in January, the developer completed the 150 MW Massif du Sud wind farm. Additionally, EDF EN is planning to build the massive 350 MW Riviere du Moulin wind farm, which is proposed for a site located 200 km north of Quebec City in the Charlevoix and Saguenay territories.
So, why the flurry of activity? EDF and REpower Systems were awarded 954 MW of development contracts as a result of Hydro-Quebec’s 2008 request for proposals (RFP). However, being selected for the contracts also means that EDF and REpower must adhere to Quebec’s regional-content requirements.
Since 2003, Hydro-Quebec, the government-run utility charged with system reliability, has launched three RFPs. (For more on the Quebec wind energy market, read “”.) With each RFP, potential bidders had to name the turbine manufacturer with which it would partner, explains utility spokesperson Louis Olivier-Batty. Each specific bid, he says, spells out the agreement regarding the manufacture and delivery of the wind turbines to the wind farm.
Each prospective bidder had to provide information so that Hydro-Quebec would be able to consider the proposed project based on the developer’s previous experience and operating profile, as well as on the amount of regional content used.
Quebec’s regional-content requirements consist of two parts. The first element is a regional-content requirement that is a function of the wind turbine manufacturing and assembly in the region. Since entering the Quebec market in 2007, REpower has partnered with several local providers in the Matane and Gaspésie regions, such as wind tower manufacturer Marmen, based in Matane; LM Wind Power’s blade facility, located in Gaspésie; New Richmond-based SEG Woodward, which is providing the controllers; and Coteau-du-Lac-based Technostrobe, a provider of protective lighting systems.
The second requirement relates to Quebec content, which is a function of the overall percentage of project costs that are sourced from within the province. In order to meet this requirement, EDF EN Canada has contracted with a Quebec firm for the design and construction of the balance-of-plant facilities, and wherever possible, the company will source materials for the project from Quebec suppliers.
According to Olivier-Batty, the wind turbines proposed by the bidder must have reached a proven level of technological maturity and be commercially available. Hydro-Quebec considers turbines technologically mature if they are operating in at least three wind farms that have been delivering electricity to public utilities for at least one year with an adequate level of performance.
Even though REpower was a newcomer to Canada, Hydro-Quebec lauded the ability of the company’s turbines to operate in cold climates. “The wind turbines were designed so that they can be installed and operated normally at low temperatures, down to -30°C,” Olivier-Batty notes.
EDF, however, was no stranger to REpower’s turbine technology. “We made a strategic bet with REpower,” explains Alex Couture, EDF EN Canada’s project development director, adding that REpower supplied the turbines on several smaller EDF-owned and -operated wind farms in the U.K. and France.
Helmut Herold, managing director at REpower, agrees. “Working on those early wind farms created a strong partnership,” he says. “That’s what helped bring us into the [Canadian] marketplace.” w
Project Profile: Lac Alfred
Planning, Logistics Lift Lac Alfred Project
By Mark Del Franco
EDF EN Canada’s Quebec wind farms underscore why planning and patience are crucial to successful wind project development.
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