Renewable energy sources are great and deserve a special focus for innovation pioneering and development of solutions without polluting the world or stealing resources. But even for renewable energy sources, sometimes there are hurdles in building the infrastructure.
For wind energy these problems start with the manufacturing and transportation of huge parts that you need to assemble a tower that can transform wind to energy. Therefore sometimes the parts are even built smaller just so they can be transported properly rather than utilizing a design that would aid the efficiency of the solution.
GE (General Electric) has designed a new solution that addresses and mitigates exactly this type of issues. Their Space Frame Tower for wind turbines is built in a logistics-friendly way without sacrificing the effectivity of the system. With a 139m (152y) hub height can be more easily delivered and assembled even if the terrain might make the logistics of traditional tower sections difficult.
“The space frame tower helps our customers go taller in new locations, further enabling the growth of wind energy,” … “This next innovation in wind turbine technology is a stepping stone towards towers taller than 150 meters in Europe. GE will continue to drive innovation and advanced technology for the wind industry in the coming years.”
– Cliff Harris, General Manager of GE’s Renewable Energy Business
What makes this design also unique is the method of utilizing a metal frame with heavy plastic as hull rather than having solid components to install. Serial production start is planned for this year and there is already a 100-meter space frame prototype tower in Tehachapi, California. Their solution also has a maintenance-free bolting system that enables taller towers more cost-effectively.
Overall I think that this is a great improvement in utilizing wind energy, getting rid of a whole lot logistics challenges and the requirement for permits and special transportation vehicles. We can’t wait to see more of these deployed all around. With the same budget it should be possible to deploy several units of this type leading to even more renewable energy to hit the grid. Great!
YouTube: GE’s Space Frame Tower Prototype in Tehachapi, California
Photo credit: GE