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Valmont demonstrates innovative wind energy structure

VALLEY, Neb., Dec. 21, 2001 à‚– Valmont Industries, Inc., a provider of engineered support structures for infrastructure and corrosion protective coatings, has developed an operating prototype of the innovative wind energy structure that was introduced at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conference earlier this year, announced Robert Meaney, Senior Vice President.

“Valmont firmly believes in a positive future for wind energy and has created an innovative wind energy support structure that addresses the industry’s need to place larger turbines on taller towers,” he said.

The company has built a 200-foot prototype at its Valley, Nebraska, location that incorporates a self-erecting structure and Valmont’s patented Turbine Lifting Platform (TLP). On November 15, the company demonstrated the TLP’s capabilities by lifting a Vestas V-47, 660-kilowatt turbine into place atop the structure.

The project is in cooperation with the Omaha Public Power District, which is investigating the performance and cost-effectiveness of wind power in eastern Nebraska. Meaney said the prototype was formally commissioned on December 20 and has begun generating power for the utility.

Valmont’s new structure design and turbine lifting system, with patents issued and pending, also addresses the challenges posed by the practical limitations of current wind tower designs. The structure is modular and composed of sections of manageable size, which brings with it several advantages, including expanded corrosion protection options and reduced shipping and construction costs. For example, the entire Valmont structure can be erected without the use of large cranes.

“In addition to enabling greater levels of energy production through the placement of larger turbines at greater heights, Valmont’s Wind Energy Structures and services are designed to lower the overall cost of wind energy,” Meaney said.

The Valmont Wind Energy Structure has important advantages:

à‚– Because the structure is self-erecting, installation can be completed using small cranes, resulting in construction of roads closer to 15 feet wide, versus 20-30 feet, and no need for crane pads;

à‚– The non-tapered main shaft is supported by a pair of battered legs that reduces the overall unbraced portion of the structure to approximately half that of a conventional wind pole design, allowing for taller structures, larger turbines and the ability to be constructed even on rough terrain;

à‚– The 63-meter model features a 64-inch uniform shaft diameter with up to 5/8-inch wall thickness. The smaller overall shaft diameter and thinner wall allows each section of the tower structure to meet standard shipping restrictions for weight;

à‚– Modular design makes it possible for each section of the structure to fit within a standard 40-foot shipping container or on a standard flatbed trailer, avoiding over length transportation costs;

à‚– The custom-designed, mobile Turbine Lifting Platform acts as a giant elevator to lift the turbine and rotors into place, eliminating the need for a large crane;

à‚– Interior features include a ladder, anti-freefall climbing safety system, multiple work/rest platforms and interior lighting;

à‚– Placement of the controller and transformer are independent of the structure and turbine installation, allowing greater flexibility in equipment delivery and less risk of damage to equipment during installation;

à‚– The Valmont Wind Energy Structure can be installed under a wide range of working conditions – even at night or in winds reaching 35 miles per hour.

à‚– As a global company with manufacturing facilities on five continents, and with its products sold in more than 100 countries, Valmont’s manufacturing capability can support wind energy projects virtually anywhere in the world.

“With the advent of our innovative design, we are seeing renewed interest in developing sites with excellent wind resources that were previously considered impractical because they were inaccessible to large cranes,” Meaney said. He added that Valmont’s approach also has applications for sites worldwide where the required cranes simply aren’t available.

“Valmont is building upon its strengths in design and engineering to help harness the wind,” Meaney said. “We intend to establish ourselves as an innovator in the design, manufacture and installation of taller structures for the wind energy industry.”

He said Valmont has contracted with Det Norske Veritas for design certification.

Valmont is a global designer and manufacturer of poles, towers, and structures for lighting, communication and utility markets, and a provider of protective coating services for infrastructure.