Energy from Wood and Wind

Martin Grolms – The highest existing wooden tower is the 118m (387ft) tall Gliwice transmitter tower in Poland, built in 1935. Now, two companies want to top that. The Swedish energy provider Varberg Energi intends to buy Modvion’s first commercial scale wind turbine tower, 150m (492ft) in total height with a 110m high, modular tower made of laminated wood. The companies started the cooperation in the summer of 2019 and the wind turbine, the world’s tallest wooden structure is expected to be installed at earliest 2021.

Modvion is a Swedish Engineering and Industrial Design company developing modular designs in renewable engineered wood products trying to simplify and improve construction logistics. Founded in 2016, Modvion creates demanding structures in laminated wood to reduce emissions for constructions by replacing high emission materials such as steel and concrete. Current area of focus is in wind tower technology.

Background is the following: as wind towers rise above 100 meters in height transportation poses considerable problems given that base diameters for 100+ meter towers exceed 4.3 meters, the limit for transport width in most parts of the USA and the EU. The patented module technology could be a solution for that.

Additionally, conventional steel tower constructions get dramatically more expensive with height due to the increasing need for thicker walls. The Swedish Engineers assure that their module technology enables significantly decreased cost, efficient transportation and streamlined installation of towers exceeding 120m. This would result in increased cost efficiency in the harvesting of wind resources.

It remains to be seen whether the modular towers made of renewable laminated wood will actually make it possible to build cost-effective high-performance wind turbines. Because then the wooden modules could be an interesting building block for a carbon-neutral energy system.

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