Massive Site C turbine on way to Site C

There's a turbine runner on the move that's heading towards BC Hydro's Site C Clean Energy Project and it's big.

There is only one turbine runner being transported to the site at a time and the first one passed through Prince George overnight.

It was scheduled to leave the Vanderhoof weigh scale at 9 p.m. heading east to Prince George on Highway 16, before turning north at Highway 97. The goal was to make it to Bear Lake by morning.

The turbine runner is eight metres wide (26.25 feet) by five metres (16.4 feet) tall and weighs 170 tonnes (187 tons).

What does a turbine runner do in a hydroelectric dam?

David Conway, the community relations manager for BC Hydro’s Site C project, explains.

"Runners are the heaviest unassembled single project component. The runner is the rotating part of the turbine. So what happens is water from the reservoir enters through an intake and drops down to the penstock which is a water pipe and it goes down to the scroll casing almost like a snail shell - wide at one end narrow at the other - and it directs water to the turbine runner. The turbine runner spins, the water is discharged back into the river but the turbine runner is attached to the turbine shaft , which is attached to a generator, which then spins and creates the electricity. The turbine runner is like a water wheel. The movement is gravitational from falling water that gets turned into mechanical energy, which spins the turbine, which spins the generator."

The turbine runner is being transported by a transportation unit that sees one truck pull while two others push from the back. The transportation unit is 81 metres (265.75 feet) long and weighs 350 tonnes (a whopping 771,618 pounds).

The average speed of the transportation unit is 40 km/h and it will slow to 10 km/h for bridge crossings and narrow corners.

There are six turbine runners needed for the project and they have been manufactured by Voith Hydro in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The first two turbine runners left by ship from Port of Santos, Brazil, on Oct. 19, 2020 and arrived in Prince Rupert in the first week of December.

The schedule for the first turbine runner's trip from the port of Prince Rupert to Site C on the Peace River is for five days but is dependent on road and weather conditions.