Wooden towers for today's skyscraping wind turbines might sound like a rickety anachronism, but they're actually a cutting-edge technology that promises to make wind energy generation more sustainable.
The Swedish engineering and industrial design company Modvion has built a 30-meter (98-foot) wind tower on the island of Björkö ("Birch Island" in English), about 20 miles west of the city of Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast. It's a pilot project; the company says in a news release that it plans to start building towers commercially "as early as 2022."
"This is a major breakthrough that paves the way for the next generation of wind turbines," said Modvion AB's CEO, Otto Lundman, as quoted in the news release.
"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."
Modvion teamed with the Moelven Group, a Scandinavian building products and systems manufacturer, to build the tower. Pieces of wood glued together with powerful adhesives form large, very strong structural components. (We blogged about the technology earlier this year. You can read our post by clicking here.)
Wooden towers are cheaper than steel as well as more climate-friendly, Modvion said. The company has patented a modular system that allows it to transport tall towers piece by piece over public roads that wouldn't be able to accommodate the full tower, the company said.
It said it has "signed declarations of intent" to build a 110-meter tower and 10 more towers of 150 meters or more in height.
"Wood has fantastic properties, and we need to build much more in wood if we are to meet the climate goals," said Moelven Töreboda CEO Johan Ahlén. "For us, it is hugely inspiring to participate in this pilot project, where we have been able to use renewable wood in a design for the production of renewable energy."