The U.S. power technology giant GE Renewable Energy and Keystone Tower Systems announced the operation of the world’s first commercial tapered spiral-welded wind turbine tower.
They installed an 89-meter-tall spiral-welded wind tower on a 2.8MW GE turbine. The installation is the result of a multi-year collaboration between Keystone and GE to design and produce spiral-welded towers for GE wind turbines. The technology will allow for mobile factories to be set up at a project site to curl and weld flat sheets of steel into 25-foot-diameter towers that could support a hub height of some 160 metres.
The spiral-welded wind turbine tower was manufactured at Keystone’s factory in Pampa, Texas, located in the Texas Panhandle. The brownfield factory was built at an idled facility that formerly made drilling equipment for the oil and gas industry and will return nearly 200 manufacturing jobs to the region.
When at full capacity, the factory will be capable of producing approximately 1GW of towers per year. This increase in domestic manufacturing capacity is coming online at a critical time with a significant expansion in the need for wind turbine components driven by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Keystone’s tapered spiral welding process brings the speed, quality, and consistency of automated manufacturing to wind tower manufacturing. The company designs and builds its own custom spiral welding manufacturing equipment.
Keystone is now ramping up production of spiral welded towers, with additional deliveries targeted in the first quarter of this year. The first product is an 89-meter-tall spiral welded tower for the GE 2.8-127 turbine, designed to be used interchangeably with GE’s conventional 89-meter-tall tower. The spiral tower has received a component certification from TÜV NORD for a 40-year lifetime.
Keystone and GE have also collaborated on a tower design for GE’s 3MW turbine platform and have signed a multi-year supply agreement for spiral towers from Keystone’s Pampa factory.
“This collaboration with Keystone is an example of GE’s commitment to working with partners to bring new and innovative technology to the wind industry and advance domestic manufacturing,” said Vic Abate, GE Renewable Energy’s CEO, Onshore Wind. “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting opportunity for our workhorse products, with the goal of providing affordable, sustainable renewable energy to our customers and helping to deliver on the energy transition.”