It has been announced that GE Renewable Energy, COBOD and LafargeHolcim will partner to co-develop wind turbines of heights of up to 200m with optimised 3D printed concrete in the towers.
The three partners will undertake a multi-year collaboration to develop this solution, which they say will increase renewable energy production, lower the cost of energy and optimise construction costs.
Traditionally built in steel or precast concrete, wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height of under 100m, as the width of the base portion of the tower cannot exceed the 4.5m diameter that can be transported by road, without excessive additional costs.
Printing a variable height tower pedestal directly on-site with 3D printed concrete technology will enable the construction of towers up to 150-200m tall. Typically, a 5 MW turbine at 80m generates (yearly) 15.1 GWh. In comparison, the same turbine at 160m would generate 20.2 GWh.
The partners aim to produce a wind turbine prototype with a printed pedestal, and a production ready printer and materials range to scale up production. The first prototype, a 10m high tower pedestal, was successfully printed in October 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The collaboration aims to accelerate the access and use of renewable energy worldwide. GE Renewable Energy will provide expertise related to the design, manufacture and commercialisation of wind turbines, COBOD will focus on the robotics automation and 3D printing and LafargeHolcim will design the tailor-made concrete material, its processing and application.
“Concrete 3D printing is a very promising technology for us, as its incredible design flexibility expands the realm of construction possibilities. Being both a user and promoter of clean energy, we are delighted to be putting our material and design expertise to work in this groundbreaking project, enabling cost efficient construction of tall wind turbine towers and accelerating access to renewable energy,” said Edelio Bermejo, head of R&D for LafargeHolcim.
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder of COBOD, added, “With our groundbreaking 3D printing technology combined with the competence and resources of our partners, we are convinced that this disruptive move within the wind turbines industry will help drive lower costs and faster execution times, to benefit customers and lower the CO2 footprint from the production of energy.”