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Nanaimo port handling massive wind turbines

The Nanaimo Port Authority is playing a key role in the development of future energy sources on Vancouver Island.

The first of 55 massive wind turbines destined for a new wind farm project at Cape Scott were delivered to the port's Duke Point facility Monday by the deep sea vessel Star America. It was the first of seven deep sea vessels that will continue to unload the turbines at Nanaimo's port through to August.

The structures are massive – the turbine towers are comprised of three sections, weighing between 35 and 50 tonnes, and when installed will stand 80 metres (256 feet) high. Each blade fans out 50 metres (161 feet).

The nacelle, which sits on top of the tower and generates the power, is the single heaviest component, weighing 72 metric tonnes.

Doug Peterson, port spokesman, said the project is significant because it represents a shift from the facility being largely an exporting operation to one that can also receive specialized goods.

"This is brand new to us," said Peterson. "And it's very exciting for us because Nanaimo has largely been known as an export port as a major exporter of wood products. This adds a new dimension to the types of things that we can do, including handling very specialized cargo such as wind turbines. We're hoping this project will open up some new avenues for us."

The port put together the contract with Vestas, the wind turbine's manufacturer.

The project has been in the works for years, but it was only the last few months port officials and representatives from DP World, the facility managers, finalized arrangements and procedures. DP World is handling the stevedoring on the project, as well as the terminal management, making for a seamless operation.

The result, said Peterson, is that companies considering shipping to the area will now consider the Nanaimo port as a place to unload as well as load.

International Power Canada is the company building the new wind farm, which, once completed will be able to produce enough energy to supply about 30,000 homes. The wind farm is the first of its kind on the Island.

International Power Canada is investing about $300 million in the project while generating about 150 construction jobs.

The new business ties into the port's Path 2025 strategy, developed to broaden its appeal.

"This non-traditional cargo handling at our Duke Point terminal supports the port's intent to make this facility the hub for our international and domestic freight business," said Bernie Dumas, president and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority.

The turbine parts will be trucked by specialized equipment throughout the summer, likely in the early morning hours, closer to their installation site.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com

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