BC Hydro’s newest turbine was successfully barged down Kinbasket Reservoir by Downie Timber from Valemount to the Mica Generating Station on Sunday, June 23.
“Downie Timber did a fantastic job on this delivery,” Jennifer Walker-Larsen, Hydro’s Revelstoke-based community liaison, said in a statement Thursday. “Moving equipment of this size over the remote Kinbasket Reservoir has never been done before. Downie’s careful planning and commitment to the project made this a real success.”
The turbine is 6.45 metres in diameter and weighs 137.5 tonnes, the equivalent weight of four humpback whales or just over 1,800 people. Andritz Hydro manufactured it in Germany. It was transported 13,000 kilometres by sea, road, and barge to reach the Mica Generating Station.
“All the people involved in this leg of the journey were absolutely wonderful to work with – a real team effort with one goal – to deliver the turbine safe and sound and on schedule,” Downie Timber’s Marian Pigeon said in the statement.
Getting it here was quite a feat.
The turbine travelled 800 kilometres from the factory in Ravensburg, Germany to the Dutch port of Rotterdam by road and inland ferry. Then an ocean vessel shipped the turbine roughly 8,000 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean to Houston, Texas. From Houston, the turbine was trucked 4,300 kilometres to Valemount at the northern tip of Kinbasket Reservoir. Finally, the turbine was barged down Kinbasket Reservoir propelled by three tugboats on a journey of just over 100 kilometres to Mica Generating Station.
The turbine was transported by truck using a Goldhoffer trailer 110 feet long. The trailer had 12 axles and 96 wheels each with independent suspension and steering to spread the weight of the heavy load. One truck pulled the trailer while another pushed. At Valemount, the tugboats positioned the 200 foot barge on the ramps using matts to cushion the bottom of the barge. The barge hull was then filled with water to stabilize and a long ramping system was constructed to minimize the truck grade from land to the water. The trucks drove the trailer onto the barge and the trailer was dropped and tightly secured for the barging trip to Mica Dam where the process was repeated to off-load the trailer and turbine.
Once installed, the turbine will power the new fifth generating unit under construction at Mica Generating Station.
Originally designed to hold six generating units, only four were installed when Mica Generating Station was constructed in the 1970’s. Now BC Hydro is working to add the two new remaining generating units at Mica Generating Station that will provide an additional approximate 1,000 megawatts of capacity to BC Hydro’s system. This is a significant amount of capacity that will be there when customers need it most – during cold, dark winter days when lights, electric baseboard heating, appliances and electronics are all in use.
Here are some photos of the latter part of the turbine’s journey, as well as a BC Hydro video about the project: