Okay, wind turbines only produce 11 grams of carbon per kilowatt hour (compared to natural gas, which produces 450 grams), but improvements are always pleasing. This is why the steel used for wind towers is now on the dock: can it be done without?
Apparently yes: the Swedish manufacturer Modvion started building wooden wind towers, through collaboration with Stora Enso, one of the oldest timber companies in the world.
Old fashioned, but more efficient
Modvion developed wooden wind towers already a few years ago. The most recent prototype was completed in 2020 and reached 9 meters (30 feet) in height. Now the company is working on wind towers three times higher.
“To solve the climate crisis, we need more renewable energy, especially the wind one, and an increased use of sustainable wooden constructions. We can allow both, ”he says Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion.
Modvion is producing huge curved sheets of laminated wood veneer (LVL) that will be glued together to form the tubular sections of the wind towers. Steel versions would be much heavier and more difficult to transport. By using wood instead of steel, carbon emissions from manufacturing they can be reduced by 90% or more.
Plus: the wood of the wind towers itself will store carbon.
A wooden structure like this stores 1,8 tons of CO2 for every ton of wood. If you consider that the weight of these final version wind towers will vary from 180 to 300 tons, the CO2 storage capacity will be around 540 tons. Really interesting.
Not only that, according to Modvion, towers are as strong as steel ones, but they weigh much less, and do not need to be reinforced. The lamination of the wood also makes these wind structures impervious to water.
A big hit in a world that, according to the IEA, needs around 30.000 extra wind turbines a year to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Wood could play a crucial role: What if we cultivated it in the laboratory?