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New energies 22/06/2020

Is the future of wind turbines made of wood?

The wind is blowing strong toward renewables. After a record growth in 2018 thanks to a boom of offshore projects and a wave of onshore farms being developed in China and the U.S., the world’s wind power capacity further expanded by 19% last year. 

For 2020, the Global Wind Energy Council, had anticipated another record year, with a 20% growth forecast. It is still unclear what the impact of the global pandemic will be on that number.

Despite this major contribution to the energy transition, wind power, — and wind turbines more specifically — face criticism for the collateral impact on the environment. Questions linger about both the materials used to construct towers and blades, such as carbon and glass fibers, as well as the cost in energy, resources and money involved in their transport. Taken together, this has meant that the quest for improving the design and construction of wind turbines has been as big of a subject for researchers and companies as improving their energy efficiency. 

Swedish firm Modvion has decided to go back to one of the most basic construction materials: wood. The country’s first wooden power-generation and carbon neutral wind tower is now complete.

Here is what you need to know about this next generation of wind turbines:

The tower is made of sustainably sourced laminated wood, which is stronger than steel, while having the same weight. The whole structure is said to have comparable efficiency to traditional wind turbines. 

    • To minimize the impact during transport, the Swedish firm has adopted a modular approach with stackable sections that can easily be transported on public roads. 
    • The first step of the tower construction took place in Töreboda at Moelven company’s facility. The produced sections were then transported to Björkö, an island outside Gothenburg, where the final piece was installed.
    • Modvion’s wooden wind towers are designed to be more than 393 ft (120 m) tall. However, this first turbine is only one-third that height, reaching 100 ft (30 m). 
    • If this proof-of-concept model is deemed a success, the company plans to produce commercial-scale versions, having already 2 major orders on the agenda for 2022 with a 360 ft (110 m) tower for Varberg Energi, and ten 490 ft models for Rabbalshede Kraft.


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