In a bid to lower the costs of wind turbine masts, as well as enable taller installations, a German engineering firm is pursuing a novel method of building them - using wood instead of steel.
The new design for wind turbine masts uses timber and laminated wood panels (all from sustainable and certified timber suppliers) for the structure, covered by a plastic skin to protect the wood from weather, and the company, TimberTower, claims that their wooden masts will save 300 tons of steel for each 100 meter tall tower.
TimberTower believes that their new design could revolutionize the wind power industry by not only lowering the cost associated with turbine masts, but also by enabling the building of towers with turbine heights up to 200 meters high, as they can be easily transported via standard cargo containers and assembled in place. According to the company's website, one of the limitations for wind turbine masts is the bottom diameter of the steel towers, which can not be transported feasibly via highway with diameters larger than 4.2 meters, due to clearance under bridges and overpasses. Because the company's design can be transported unassembled, these limitations won't apply to their towers, and they say their towers can be completed in just 2 days.
TimberTower is currently building a 100 meter tall mast that will eventually be topped with a 1.5 MW wind turbine, and they have plans to build a 140 meter tall tower near Hanover. According to DW, that extra height could allow the turbine to generate 30 to 40% more electricity than on a standard mast, while the cost of construction would be 20 percent lower.
Find out more about TimberTowers at their website: TimberTowers