RWE considers wooden towers for wind farms

3 April 2023

Modvion and RWE Renewables Sweden ABare entering a partnership to supply wooden towers to RWE’s future onshore wind farms. RWE has ambitious plans to increase its production capacity while reducing its carbon footprint. The goal with this partnership is to verify the wooden tower technology and prepare for RWE to use it in future wind farms, once the towers are available in the market, and RWE has signed a Letter of Intent to that effect.

Lars Borisson, head of Onshore Origination & Development Nordics at RWE Renewables commented: “We see that modular towers in laminated wood have significant market potential and can contribute to lowering the cost of new renewable electricity production by replacing steel and concrete with environmentally friendly and climate-smart wood.” Maria-Lina Hedlund, CFO and acting CEO at Modvion, commented: “Our technology can help the wind industry dramatically reduce emissions, while facilitating taller towers to reach stronger winds.”

Even if steel continues to be used to construct many parts of the wind turbines, wooden towers have the potential to become an important complementary material in tower construction. According to a survey carried out by Modvion, almost four out of ten Swedes feel more positive about wind power if the towers are built of wood.

The wind industry wants taller turbines and Modvion’s patented wind turbine tower is believed to provide a cost-effective solution. Laminated wood is stronger than steel proportionate to its weight, which means lighter towers and less need for reinforcement. The towers are built in modules that can be easily transported, without the need for special transport, road closures and lengthy permit procedures. Growing trees bind carbon dioxide, which is stored in the wood products, while building with wood enables emission reductions in production compared to conventional materials such as steel and concrete. According to a life-cycle analysis from the Swedish research institute RISE, using a wooden tower reduces emissions by 90% when compared to a conventional steel tower of the same height and load.

“A conventional tower is responsible for the largest portion of emissions that arise from the production of wind turbines. By using wood, the tower becomes carbon negative, storing more carbon than is emitted during production”, says Hedlund.

Modvion will be installing its first commercial wind turbine during 2023. A 2 MW WTG will be installed on the tower, which, including the blades, will stand 150 metres tall. Modvion has plans for a larger installation, which will use a 6MW turbine, one of the most powerful used on land.

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