A massive wind farm established in the peninsula of Jaffna; the first and largest green energy venture of its kind, went on to become the first spark of Sri Lanka’s next revolution in energy generation.
For the last few decades, the country had been gradually navigating towards a transition from fossil fuel-based power to energy generation from renewable resources. This paradigm shift was seen as a critical necessity in considering Sri Lanka’s future plans for economic growth and development, which required an expanded supply in energy.
A winning bid for affordable power generation
As one of the country’s most advanced sustainable energy solution providers, Ceylex Renewables took on the challenge of designing and setting up the most advanced and largest wind turbine project the country has seen to date.
To win the contract, we had to face a very competitive bidding process in which over 15 local and international competitors participated. With our tariff bid of LKR13.00 per KWh, which was significantly lower than the previous average of LKR20.00 per KWh and signified a major cost saving for the nation, Ceylex proved to be the most viable collaborator for the project.
Pieces in motion, and a foundation set…
The first order of business was the transportation of the titanic pieces of machinery and equipment. 8 colossal European wind turbines, each capable of generating 2.5MW of power were meticulously moved from the port of Trincomalee; where they were unloaded from ship, to the Jaffna peninsula.
It was a painstaking process, as moving 24 units of 180-foot blades on 300 kilometres of road presented a variety of problems such as low power lines and sharp turns that had to be navigated with the greatest of care. However, with the support of local authorities, multiple utility and logistical partners, as well as our own team of engineers, AND a unique crane that allowed the massive blades to pivot in place, the near-impossible task was finally accomplished within a period of two months!
To ensure structural integrity, vast amounts of immense piles (20 piles for each turbine to be exact), were driven nearly 20 meters down into the bedrock in forming a foundation that guaranteed total stability.
Assembling a marvel
The actual construction of the farm too was an equally breathtaking achievement.
A 600-ton crane with a boom height of 114 metres lifted and placed each section in place, taking full seven days to assemble a single turbine. The docking and locking of the main parts on to the turbine adopted a process similar to that used by space shuttles, when docking with the International Space Station!
The technology in use, truly inspires awe…
The project; in its completed state, brings to light all the impressive detail that make it one of the most ambitious infrastructure / utility development projects ever to break ground in our island paradise.
The key element; the turbines, command all of the attention with its unit height of 93 metres and unit weight of 350 tons. The attached Nacelle pivot at the turbine hub, allows the turbine to turn 360 degrees and the blades to be angled through a full 90 degrees to ensure that power is generated regardless of which way the wind may blow. The Nacelle also houses a wind vane, Anemometer, and an Ultrasonic Sensor to measure wind-speed, direction, and humidity respectively.
These powerful turbines can operate in wind speeds as low as 3 m/s and up to 25 m/s with extensive cut-off mechanisms guaranteeing absolute safety.
In operation, the gear box on top of the turbine, regulates the rotor speed up to a maximum of 15 rpm and transmits power from the main shaft to a highly technical state-of-the-art double-fed induction generator using a dry-type transformer, with a voltage step-up from 690V to 33 kV.
But feeding all of that new power to the nation’s grid meant the addition of new supporting infrastructure, which came in the form aerial bundled cables integrated with sophisticated digital equipment that would allow the constant manual / remote monitoring of the energy flow possible.
The farm and its turbines, when in maximum operating capacity generate a supply of energy that is sufficient to power half of Jaffna’s electricity needs. With such an energy generation capacity realized through just one farm, it leaves us to wonder the immense possibilities that are there to sustainably power the cities and villages of our country in time to come. Whenever that day might be, we at Ceylex promise to be there, leading the way.