On June 11, the M/V Star America commenced discharging its cargo of wind turbines at the Port of Nanaimo. Altogether, seven ocean-going vessels will be unloading 55 wind turbines, with the final turbines expected to be unloaded by early August. The wind turbines will be stored temporarily at Nanaimo Port Authority’s Duke Point terminal, before they will be transported to be installed at the Cape Scott wind farm on Vancouver Island. When completed by early 2013, the electrical power produced by the turbines will be purchased and used to power Vancouver Island homes. Phase I of the wind farm (55 turbines) is expected to produce about 300,000 MWh of power, which is sufficient to supply the energy needs of 30,000 homes, and will be the first of its type on the Island.

The turbine towers are comprised of three sections and, when installed, will stand 80-metre tall. Connected to a central hub, each tower will have three rotating blades which will measure 50 metres in length. The nacelle, which sits on top of the tower and generates the power is the single heaviest component, with each unit weighing 72 tons.

Commenting on this new cargo-handling opportunity, the Port’s ­Manager of Marketing & Sales, Doug Peterson, said, “We have been aware of this project for several years but it was only recently that the ­discussion became very serious and, together with our terminal operator,  DP World Vancouver, we finalized the arrangements and procedures necessary to handle these very specialized ­components. We are very pleased that turbine manufacturer Vestas chose Nanaimo to handle these expensive and very large components and it speaks well of Nanaimo’s reputation as the ‘solutions port’ and the diversity of services that our port can provide.”

The new business also ties into the Port’s Path 2025, which was released in early May and outlines the broad strategic plan for the Port as it charts its future. “The handling of this non-traditional cargo at our Duke Point terminal supports the Port’s intent to make this facility the hub for our international and domestic freight business,” said Port Authority President and CEO Bernie Dumas, “it is our intent to make Duke Point the industrial centre for the Port with a mix of handling and storage of solid and wet cargoes.”

The wind turbines initiative will have a positive impact in creating employment opportunities in many communities on Vancouver Island. From discharging the components at the port, through the movement of loaded trucks to the North Island and the construction of the turbines at the wind farm site, many man-hours of employment will be generated, with some long-term job creation to maintain the equipment.