GE Renewable Energy, COBOD and LafargeHolcim will partner to co-develop record-tall wind turbines with 3D printed concrete bases, the companies announced in a statement Wednesday.
In the statement, LafargeHolcim said they would undertake a multi-year collaboration to develop the turbines that aim to increase renewable energy production while lowering the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and optimizing construction costs.
Although the wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height under 100 meters, the company said the new turbines would reach “record heights up to 200 meters” to generate more renewable energy.
The first 10-meter high prototype was printed in October 2019 in Copenhagen, but LafargeHolcim said the three partners aim to generate more renewable energy per turbine by exploring ways to economically develop taller towers that capture stronger winds.
“The partners will produce ultimately a wind turbine prototype with a printed pedestal, and a production-ready printer and materials range to scale up production,” it explained.
GE Renewable Energy will be responsible for the design, manufacture and marketing of wind turbines while COBOD will focus on the robotics automation and 3D printing and LafargeHolcim will design the tailor-made concrete material, its processing and application, the statement said.
“Concrete 3D printing is a very promising technology for us, as its incredible design flexibility expands the realm of construction possibilities. Being both a user and promoter of clean energy, we are delighted to be putting our material and design expertise to work in this groundbreaking project, enabling cost- efficient construction of tall wind turbine towers and accelerating access to renewable energy,” explained Edelio Bermejo, head of R&D for LafargeHolcim.
Printing a variable height base directly on-site with 3D-printed concrete technology will enable the construction of towers of up to 150 to 200 meters tall. Typically, a 5-megawatt turbine at 80 meters generates 15.1 gigawatt-hours (GWh). In comparison, the same turbine at 160 meters would generate 20.2 GWh, or more than 33% extra power.
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder of COBOD International said the wind turbines with 3D printing technology would help drive lower costs and faster execution times and lower the CO2 footprint from energy production.
“Concrete printing has advanced significantly over the last five years, said Matteo Bellucci, an advanced manufacturing technology leader for GE Renewable Energy highlighting the logistical simplification of 3D-printed wind turbines.
Traditionally built in steel or precast concrete, wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height under 100 meters, as the width of the base cannot exceed the 4.5-meter diameter that can be transported by road, without excessive additional costs.
By Sibel Morrow