The South African wind energy market has grown rapidly in recent years with 15 new wind farms totalling 1,200MW constructed in the last 3 years. The South African government has already committed to procuring energy from another 19 wind farms totalling 2,000MW, to help combat longstanding electricity shortages.
This rapid growth has created demand for a repair, inspection and maintenance market that can service approximately 4,000 operational blades. In turn, the development of such a market will enable turbines to perform as expected, and provide a base of regional service expertise in the South African sector able to quickly address blade or tower issues and minimise wind farm downtime.
As part of the joint venture agreement, Altitec is working alongside Obelisk to provide a range of high quality, regionally specific blade and tower services, while also training new South African rope access technicians to international standards.
The range of core certified services delivered within the joint venture includes rotor-based inspections based on the principles for the monitoring of wind turbines, composite blade repairs, cleaning and monitoring of equipment and wind turbine tower corrosion protection and repair.
Currently the partnership has seen the creation and development of four dedicated teams of technicians that work directly with wider project management personnel on the ground.
“As key emerging markets move from early stage planning and development and into the commissioning stage, it’s critical that prospective wind power projects remain on track and stay within budget,” said Tom Dyffort, Managing Director, Altitec.
“However, while the planning theory stacks up, the operational reality of working within new territories can quickly create unforeseen challenges. Moreover, with many European manufacturers keen to safeguard and protect their equipment during the critical transport and commissioning stage, it’s essential that those technicians working with the equipment on the ground can provide absolute confidence and assurance.”
Dyffort added, “Given these challenges, our joint venture with Obelisk provides absolute reassurance for developers, owners, operators and manufacturers working within South Africa. Obelisk already has a very good reputation and strong track record in delivering quality services to the wind industry in South Africa, and we look forward to building on that base together.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Obelisk and Altitec will work to Germanischer Lloyd certification standards, training local technicians to help develop an established regional workforce for long-term operations and maintenance.
Justin Burnett, Managing Director, Obelisk, added, “Altitec is well known and highly respected within the on and offshore wind market for its focus on continuing to set and raise international blade repair and inspection standards. This ambition makes Tom and his team the perfect partner to help train and develop the next generation of technicians within the South African market. We look forward to working alongside Altitec as our relationship develops both within South Africa and further afield.”
Since 2010, Altitec technicians have inspected over 2,000 blades, 660 turbines, throughout the UK, Europe and within key emerging markets further afield. The firm provides a full range of blade inspection, repair and maintenance services, as well as an established, industry certified training programme, known as The Altitec Academy. The Altitec Academy has the ability to train over 180 rope access blade repair and inspection technicians every year.