Swedish engineering and industrial design company Modvion announced at the end of April that it had erected Sweden’s first wooden wind tower, billed as being “as strong as steel”.
Built on the Swedish island of Björkö, just off the coast from the city of Gothenburg, the new 30-metre wooden wind tower will now be used for research purposes ahead of plans to build the towers on a commercial scale starting in 2022.
Modvion has already signed declarations of intent with Swedish utility Varberg Energi for a 110-metre tall wooden tower and with Nordic wind developer Rabbalshede Kraft for 10 towers of at least 150-metres in height.
“This is a major breakthrough that paves the way for the next generation of wind turbines,” said Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion AB. “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.”
Built in conjunction with wood products company Moelven at the gluewood factory in Töreboda, the 30-metre tower serves as a demonstration of the way wood, with its lighter weight, and the modular construction, makes it possible to build taller towers then traditional wind turbine towers.
One of the unseen development issues of tall wind turbines is simply moving the tower from place to place – an issue made moot by moving to modular construction.
Further, wooden wind towers can be built at a “significant lower cost than steel,” according to Modvion, which serves to lower the overall cost of wind development and wind generated electricity.
“Wood has fantastic properties and we need to build much more in wood if we are to meet the climate goals,” added Johan Åhlén, CEO of Moelven Töreboda. “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.”
Development of Modvion’s wooden tower was funded in part by the Swedish Energy Agency, the Västra Götaland Region, and the EU programme Horizon 2020.
“Wind power is expected to be the EU’s largest power source as early as 2027,” said Ola Carlson, assistant professor of renewable power generation and director of the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre, the client behind the testing of the wooden tower on Björkö. “With wind towers in wood, we get even more climate-smarter renewable electricity to face the climate crisis.”