Danish wind energy giant Vestas, through its corporate venture capital arm Vestas Ventures, has invested in Swedish wood technology company Modvion, which specialises in making wooden wind turbine towers that it claims are “stronger than steel”.
In April 2020, Modvion successfully erected Sweden’s first wooden wind tower, a 30-metre wooden wind tower that the company will use for research purposes ahead of plans to build their wooden turbine towers at a commercial scale starting in 2022.
Made from laminated veneer lumber (LVL) – a bio-composite material sourced sustainably from a supplier network and validated to uphold robust reforestation strategies – Modvion CEO Otto Lundman claims its laminated wooden towers are “stronger than steel at the same weight and by building in modules, the wind turbines can be taller.”
Accepting that Modvion’s LVL towers are comparable in strength to traditional steel structures, the major benefits are seen in the value chain, with Modvion’s towers expected to reduce carbon emissions by 80% for the wind turbine tower.
In addition, LVL towers are lighter than traditional steel towers, meaning that, along with the reduction in carbon emissions, there are significant cost reductions to building wind turbines with modular LVL towers.
“To tackle the climate crisis, we need more renewable energy and increased use of sustainable, wooden constructions, and Modvion’s technology enables both,” Lundman said.
Vestas Ventures was set up in late 2020 by Vestas to serve as a corporate venture capital arm, with a view towards accelerating the deployment of sustainable energy and leverage Vestas’ experience and financial weight.
Modvion is its first official investment and Vestas will now look to integrate LVL towers into its own design and manufacturing processes over the long-term.
“Cultivating cutting-edge technologies, such as Modvion’s LVL towers, can pave the way for building scale sustainably, particularly as the towers can integrate with our modularisation strategy,” said Lisa Ekstrand, head of sustainability at Vestas.