Wind Turbine Towers Made of Wood, Could Wooden Cargo Ships be Next

Robert Zwilling

Well-Known Member
Jun 12, 2018
Swedish startup company Modivion has built the world's tallest wooden wind turbine. Now operational, it supplies 2 megawatts to 200 homes.

Unique lego style construction that resembles tree rings using thin wood sheets and glue is able to replace tall steel wind turbine towers.

Modvion believes that 10 percent of the wind turbines currently built of steel could be built of laminated wood. Both the wood and steel wind turbines use the same fiberglass blades to catch the wind.

Wind turbines built of steel can be limited to where they can be built by the types of roads, bridges, and underpasses in the area. The cargo loads of the unassembled wind turbines get bigger as the size of the wind turbines get bigger. This has resulted in making it harder to get the parts to the construction site.

Turbine towers made of wood are much easier to truck to the site and are easy to construct large towers. The tower featured in the article is 105 meters, or 345 feet tall. Measured from the highest point of blade it is 150 meters or 492 feet tall.

They plan on providing wood towers that will be 200 meters tall and have blades that will raise the total height to 300 meters.
Very interesting. I hope this idea catches on. We need more wind power and smaller carbon footprint is a nice side benefit. Here in Iowa we have a lot of wind generators (Iowa has more wind power per capita than any other US State. Unfortunately, even here there is growing protest against them. Why? Well because they interfere with being able to see the "natural" horizon. SIGH!)
Pretty much the same here in the UK. They are an eyesore and a blot on the landscape but perfectly acceptable when they are 5 miles off short and can be seen from far greater distances [as well as making them more expensive to build and maintain...].
Interesting on wooden towers, I wonder what the working life would be.

I'm rather impressed by the solar canopy idea over existing structures like car parks or canals. France is planning to make it compulsory over all car parks larger than 80 spaces.

Speaking as someone living near a 40meter turbine, it isn't the visual aspect that is a problem for some people - they can be noisy, and why they are noisy is complicated - one layout that can cause a problem is having them on a hilltop for maximum wind - at some wind speeds and directions they sound like a permanently hovering helicopter on the horizon when you are a bit more down into the shelter of the valley. The noise regulations for turbine installation in the UK date from 1997 and are not fit for purpose. The basic assumption to those regs, is that windturbines aren't that tall - they are in the ground layer of wind. So what used to happen, with older, shorter, turbines, like 40m ones, was that as the wind got stronger, the turbine ran faster and got noisier, but the increased wind turbine noise was covered by increased background wind noise. As evidenced by my experience this didn't always work, but did at times. Then turbines were built taller, and taller, so they are now in a much higher wind layer, that isn't influenced by the ground - doesn't have the turbulence in it from land contours - and so the turbine is more efficient. However because they are now in a wind layer well above the ground - 100m, 150m and more - the wind may be blowing quite strongly at 100m up, but not much at ground level, so the turbine is thundering along, but the masking wind noise at ground level isn't there because at ground level it is just a light breeze. There is also impact from the shape of the ground, whether the ground is currently wet or dry, on how loudly the noise propagates. Turbines can be tuned to be quieter - the one near me has been after I lodged a complaint and then had to collect data for months and other nausea. It still isn't fully quiet, but a lot better than it was.
What really bugs me, is that instead of improving modelling, and fixing the regulations, the tactic is that people who complain are shouted at for being NIMBYS. There have been a few cases where people have received compensation, after years of court battles and paying acousticians for surveys, because their house was rendered impossible to live in. Occasionally windfarm companies have taken to buying the nearest houses to a development, so that houses that are badly affected are under their control and therefore don't count under the regulations.
As someone who is supportive of renewable energy, but can do without having lots of chuff chuff noises on windy days, I find it massively frustrating that no-one is doing the decent thing of improving the turbines, and the modelling of the turbines, so that the problem goes away. Of course it is all about money and it is cheaper to browbeat people than fix the problem. At that point I'd probably better stop as getting towards too cross.
There is a growing momentum to cover open spaces with solar cell panels. Covering waterways accomplishes 2 goals, they generate electricity and cut down on water evaporation Waterways that have been covered with solar panels don't seem to bother birds, they are still able to get to the water. Covering parking lots with solar panels generates electricity which can be used locally as well as charge EV batteries.

Covering parking lots with solar cell panels has taken a big step forward in New York City.
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Here in the Panhandle of Texas, we have several very large wind farms. There's one east of Amarillo that's 20 miles long, and another west of equal size. The ground beneath is natural range for cattle to feed off. The turbines' noise doesn't seem to bother them.
I've always liked the sight of wind turbines. They look so majestic and for everyone of them I see (and here in Iowa we see a lot of them) I think there are hundreds of rail cars of coal still in the ground because of that beauty.
Put wind turbines where they are easy, use other power types other places. I still never hear much about ocean thermal conversation, which sounds pretty simple for coastal areas, despite reading about it in the '70s. And then there's orbital solar.

Ultimately, someone needs to find a way of sucking the heat out of Yellowstone before that blows. That would be a great way to produce energy that has an ancillary benefit.
Wind powered generators on wood towers were available from the 1850s on to the present day. The original ones were small, used om farms, typically charging batteries. They were not considered to be economical compared to large scale power grids as a source of power. A few large ones were built in various countries but large scale use never caught on. The farm units were the most installed but rural electrification programs ended the need for them. Apparently having a non polluting source of power was never an issue until recently. Electric hydro power was a big source of power when electricity usage first became widespread because it was easy to do, not because it was non polluting.
The other thing to remember is that water power was used directly a lot. It was what started the industrial revolution in the UK, and many textile mills were water powered. Metal working and smelting included a lot of water powered work, and they had "campaigns" when the rivers were full and stopped when they were low.
I was shown water power remains at a farm a few years back, where out the back of two storey cart shed and hay store, there were various stone channels and holes in the wall. The farmer explained that there had been a wooden chute, or launder, bringing water at a height down the valley to all the farms, and the farm buildings had water wheels on the back of them that were used for powering things like threshing, wood chopping, saw mills and grind stones for animal feed more than milling for flour. It was in use into the twentieth century. The fewer times you convert power type, the less you lose. So going from moving water, moving a wheel, to water creating electricity which then drives machinery, has a power loss. It is of course far more convenient and variable, but I'd be interested to so if there is a come back on direct drive water power, as it must be lower maintenance than generators and electrical equipment.

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