ACCIONA has installed the world’s first lighthouse made of composite materials in the Port of Valencia. The building is self-sufficient in energy, relying only on renewable sources, and it is lighter, more modern, sustainable and durable than its conventional predecessors.
The Port of Valencia is now home to a lighthouse with a difference – one that displays little in common with its predecessors. The structure performs all the basic functions you would expect of a lighthouse, but adds new qualities that are essential to the modern world, such as sustainability and respect for the environment.
The new Valencia lighthouse was made from composite materials, primarily carbon and glass fibers and resins, which have a number of advantages over traditional materials:
LONGER, USEFUL LIFE
Unlike traditional materials such as steel and concrete, composites are unaffected by the corrosion you get in aggressive environments like seaports, where wind, swells and salt predominate. The structure will last longer as a result.
Total manufacturing and installation time for a lighthouse built from composites is 40% less than using conventional materials and methods.
The use of composites is economically more efficient thanks to the faster build time and fewer transports of materials. Since composites better withstand environmental conditions, maintenance costs throughout the life cycle are also lower.
The new structure at the Port of Valencia weighs a total of 20 metric tons. This lightness allowed for easy transport and installation.
SMALL IMPACT ON PORT OPERATIONS
By manufacturing outside the port, the installation had hardly any impact on port operations. Installation was faster, the cordoned-off area at the port was smaller, and less waste and noise resulted.
The energy system of the lighthouse comprises nine solar panels and a vertical-axis wind turbine generator, powering LED beacons. The electricity generated is stored in a bank of 12, 124-volt batteries. This system allows the lighthouse to function for six consecutive days without sun or wind, which would be a rare event in Valencia. If that does occur, however, the structure can be connected to a backup generator or, if absolutely necessary, the electricity grid.
Composites are unaffected by corrosion from wind, swells or salt.
ASSEMBLY OF THE LIGHTHOUSE STRUCTURE
ACCIONA Infrastructure was responsible for the development of this innovative composite structure. As of Summer 2014, engineers from the company’s Alcobendas (Madrid) and Noblejas (Toledo) centers carried out tests and simulations to define every single piece of the lighthouse.
The structure was pre-assembled at the workshop, reducing impact on port operations, costs and build time. Epoxy adhesive was used in place of metallic bolted joints to avoid corrosion effects. In a second phase, the structure was coated to protect from solar radiation and extend durability.
The structure was pre-assembled at the workshop to reduce impact on port operations, costs and build time
TRANSFER AND HOISTING OF THE LIGHTHOUSE
Once assembled, the structure was transported the 315 kilometers from Noblejas to Valencia by road as a special load on 10 February 2015 and immediately raised at its permanent location at the intersection of the new eastern jetties. This operation, carried out by a small team with two large cranes, consisted of hoisting, anchoring and assembling the structure in a previously built coffer.
The operation lasted a total of just 20 hours and barely interfered with normal port operations, demonstrating the speed and precision that can be used to assemble a structure of this size and kind. An interior spiral staircase was added at a later date, in six-meter sections, rising to the upper frame of guardrails and other auxiliary elements of the structure, readying it for the next phase.
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