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Sustainable materials for wind energy

We found out we’re not the only ones using wood in the wind energy market.

At Enessere we use Paulownia wood in the construction of the wings of our micro wind turbine Hercules, but other companies also use wood, an eco-sustainable material, for the construction of wind farms.

The Swedish company Modvion creates the towers of their wind generators with modular wood, to reach heights that go up to 30 mt.

Credits: Modvion

This record will help the sector with decreasing its environmental footprint as it will be possible to do without steel yet obtain an even sturdier structure.

The Modvion industrial and engineering design company installed the first large-scaòe “green” wind tower in Bjorko, Sweden. A 30 mt high multi-layered panel structurethat deservedly enters the Guinness World Records book. 

The work is the result of a pilot project for the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre, supported by the Horizon 2020 funds with the aim to simplify the transportation and installation phases, something that always had a strong impact both in costs and environmental footprint.

Using wood means save up to 40% compared to steel on the cost for the manufacture of the tower and, moreover, respect the environment by saving up to 2000 tons of CO2 for each wind turbine. Moreover, this modular approach to building makes it possible to have higher and wider towers; this also means that turbines can exploit this larger area and operate in places where wind speed is higher.

Modvion stated their wish to manufacture wind turbines that are 110 mt high for the Varberg Energi utility, the first wind farm in Sweden, and get to 150 mt for the Rabbalshede Kraft renewable energy operator.

Enessere Hercules wind turbine-wood structure

For this new commercial endeavour, the company has just obtained a contribution of 6,5M € from the EU Commission as part of the acceleration program of the European Innovation Council.

In Germany too companies such as TimberTower are working on this type of experimentations to create modular design wood towers to contain the use of steel, a material with a strong environmental impact and with significant costs*: the first trial was done not far from Hannover, where a 140 mt high tower has been built.

The height of the structure is one of the fundamental parameters to improve energy efficiency as you can get stronger and more constant winds, subsequently increasing the productivity of the wind installation.

Holger Giebel, Executive Director for TimberTower, stated that the building limits on steel structures are defined by logistical limits, indeed these “on-shore steel towers can now reach 110mt in height. This is becasue the base cannot be more than 4,2 mt in diameter, which is the maximum size allowed to fit under road bridges in Germany and elsewhere”.

Hercules wind turbine – Paulonia wood

With this new modular design wooden structure it might be possible to reach considerably higher heights and build them on the spot, with a performance improvement up to 40% as the higher you get, the stronger and steadier the wind is. Add this to the cost-saving on transportation as these structures can be built on the spot and this materials innovation might decrease production costs of at least 20%, thus bringing wind energy cost to 0.05 € per kWh.

This new cost would turn wind energy so competitive that would challenge the position of Nuclear.

Moreover, it is estimated that these new wind towers can last up to 20 years and once they’re disassembled their wood can be totally recycled: another advantage of this experimentation.

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