Energy

Sweden welcomes its first wooden wind turbine tower

Sweden welcomes its first wood...
Sweden's first wooden wind power tower, standing 30 m high, has been erected outside Gothenburg
Sweden's first wooden wind power tower, standing 30 m high, has been erected outside Gothenburg
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Sweden's first wooden wind power tower, standing 30 m high, has been erected outside Gothenburg
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Sweden's first wooden wind power tower, standing 30 m high, has been erected outside Gothenburg
Inside the wooden wind turbine tower
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Inside the wooden wind turbine tower
Modvion's modular wind tower is transported through Sweden
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Modvion's modular wind tower is transported through Sweden
Workers install Modvion's modular wind tower in Sweden
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Workers install Modvion's modular wind tower in Sweden
Modvion is working on modular versions of wind towers that can be made out of cheaper and greener materials than steel
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Modvion is working on modular versions of wind towers that can be made out of cheaper and greener materials than steel
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The wheels have begun to turn on an interesting new form of wind turbine in Sweden, with the country’s first wooden power-generation tower now complete. Built from sustainably sourced materials and said to offer comparable performance to traditional wind turbines, it's hoped the wooden power tower will be a harbinger of cheaper and greener solutions for renewable energy in the Nordic country, with commercial versions planned for a couple of years down the track.

Following in the footsteps of a similar creation in Germany, the new wooden wind tower is the brainchild of Swedish engineering firm Modvion, which is out to improve on what it sees as significant drawbacks when it comes to typical wind towers. These tall, steel towers demand thick bases to support their upper sections, which not only makes them very expensive to produce, but very expensive to transport to site, with rules around load size on public roads often proving problematic.

Modvion is instead working on a modular version that can be made out of cheaper and greener materials than steel, which requires huge amounts of energy to produce. The company’s wooden wind towers are designed to reach heights of more than 120 m (393 ft), at significantly lower cost than those made out of steel, with the modular approach allowing for stackable sections to be transported on public roads without issue. They are also claimed to be carbon neutral from the day construction begins.

Modvion's modular wind tower is transported through Sweden
Modvion's modular wind tower is transported through Sweden

The 30-meter (100-ft) proof-of-concept tower was built together with wood construction company Moelven at its facility in Töreboda. The wooden sections of the turbine were then transported to Björkö, an island outside Gothenburg around 200 km (124 mi) away, with the final piece put into place in late April.

"This is a major breakthrough that paves the way for the next generation of wind turbines," says Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion AB. "Laminated wood is stronger than steel at the same weight and by building in modules, the wind turbines can be taller. By building in wood, we also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing and instead store carbon dioxide in the design."

Inside the wooden wind turbine tower
Inside the wooden wind turbine tower

If things continue smoothly for Modvion, it plans to produce commercial-scale versions of its wooden turbine in 2022. These include a 110-meter-tall (360-ft) version for Varberg Energi, as well as 10 towers in excess of 150 m (490 ft) tall for renewable energy company Rabbalshede Kraf.

"Wind power is expected to be the EU's largest power source as early as 2027," says Ola Carlson, director of the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre and assistant professor of renewable power generation. "With wind towers in wood, we get even more climate-smarter renewable electricity to face the climate crisis."

Source: Modvion

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8 comments
paul314
Can they do the blades as well? Right now that's a big pile of non-recyclable waste.
WillNC
Don't tell me about another use for wood. Really it takes years for trees to grow and there is already massive clearing of old and newer growth forests worldwide. Why is this considered green? And yes I've heard the greenwashing arguments that for me fall under "anything can be rationalized" category. Can't the hyper-rationalists get that trees are a carbon sink and oxy generators? When are you going to proclaim a new superior engineered recycled PLASTIC wind turbine tower???
bwana4swahili
Wood, should burn better than the steel towers!?
Tony Morris
@WillNC. Once a tree is fully grown, the area of land it occupies ceases to capture carbon. If you cut the tree down and grow another, the carbon capture can continue.

What you do with the timber determines the final outcome - burn it and you have carbon-neutral energy production, build something with it and the carbon is sequestered for the life of that structure.
Worzel
Wind turbines are just updated, medieval engineering. The only long term clean power source is geothermal. Its constant, almost everlasting, mostly out of sight and doesn't kill bats and birds or blight the countryside with visual and audible pollution.
Worzel
@Tony Morris ''....... the area of land it occupies ceases to capture carbon.'' is incorrect. Trees continue to capture carbon dioxide throughout their lives, as a part of the photosynthesis process. A lot of it goes into leaf production, which is then returned to the soil, annually, thereby enriching it for other plants.
Pablo
I'm not certain how laminated wood is "green" or "recyclable". What will be done with these after their service life is over... you can't likely reuse the lumber once it's glued together. As well, it's likely to be far more susceptible to rot if any amount of moisture gets where is shouldn't. Steel is just fine. It's entirely recyclable, very strong, available. It should be possible to redesign the steel towers if delivery over the road is a real issue. In the US, we have a strong trend of building multistory hotels and apartments of wood. They're absurdly noisy, the wood floors act as a diaphragm and spread footsteps and other noises far more than concrete. If a water leak is undetected or ignored, structural failure is likely. Point being, wood is a terrific material for many uses... maybe not this one.
Jorgen Andre Storebo
Wind power is expected to be the EU's largest power source as early as 2027,"
jeezes, arent we past the windmill/solar panel bullsh%IT already? Whats next, we call burning tree chips to make biofuel green energy?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALPEpV4w&feature=share