By: Steve Clark
Wind farm projects continue to proliferate in Cameron County and surrounding counties, which is good news for the Port of Brownsville, since it handles the wind turbine components that enter the Rio Grande Valley, which creates revenue.
One of the latest projects under construction is the San Roman Wind Farm by Spanish alternative energy developer Acciona Energy’s U.S. subsidiary. Vessels loaded with wind towers, nacelles, blades and cones connected with the project are steaming into the port at regular intervals.
The components are stored and eventually loaded onto specially equipped trailers and hauled via 18-wheeler to a site on private land between Bayview and the Laguna Madre.
Acciona USA says the 93-mewatt project will consist of 31 wind turbines capable of generating enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. San Roman is scheduled to be online by the end of the year, according to the company, which owns seven other wind farms around the United States and more than 200 worldwide.
The port received the first Acciona components in late May. Each steel tower arrives in four sections that stand 287 feet tall when assembled. The nacelles, which house the generator, gear box and other components, can weigh as much a 140 tons apiece, according to the company.
The power produced by the project will be delivered to the electrical grid operated by AEP Texas. A substation and connections to the main transformer are already complete. Individual concrete pads for the individual turbines have been poured and the turbines themselves are being erected. It’s Acciona’s first wind farm in Texas, though it’s hardly the state’s first wind farm.
In the Valley, Cameron Wind, Duke Energy and E.ON Climate and Renewables all have giant rotors spinning, a dense forest of turbines highly visible from I-69E north of Brownsville.
Brownsville port director and CEO Eddie Campirano noted, there’s something special about the coast from a power-generation perspective.
“One of the things that’s very interesting for us, and why this area is good — I’ve heard this repeatedly — is that we have what they call ‘coastal wind,’” he said. “The wind blows during the day during the greatest demand for energy. In West Texas the wind blows at night.”
That’s fine by Campirano. The more the merrier when it comes to wind projects in the Valley, is his attitude. Campirano said he thinks another Cameron County project may be in the offing. Another prospective project being discussed for northern Mexico would also ship its components through the port, he said.
Campirano doesn’t see an end to turbine components traversing the port anytime soon. Those components arrive by rail as well as by vessel, he said.
“We don’t see it stopping with what we have this month,” Campirano said. “We still have other stuff coming in. It’s been busy. It’s been good. It diversifies the cargo mix and it also diversifies everybody that’s involved in handling the cargo. It diversifies their capabilities.
“It makes us better at the port that we can offer all these services and handle different kinds of cargo. That’s good for us. It’s good for the stevedores. It’s good for the trucking and logistics companies. It certainly has been has a plus for us in terms of our cargo and activity.”