Swedish startup Modvion has partnered with power giant RWE Renewables to supply wooden towers to RWE’s future onshore wind farms. The deal is a part of RWE’s ambitious plans to increase its production capacity while reducing its carbon footprint.
The goal of the partnership is to verify the wooden tower technology and prepare for RWE to equip future wind farms with wooden towers once the towers are available in the market.
Around one-quarter of the climate impact that arises when manufacturing wind turbines comes from the tower, normally made from steel and sometimes concrete. Steel will continue to be used in many parts of wind turbines, but wooden towers have the potential to become an important complementary material in tower construction.
Modvion erected its first 30m wooden wind turbine tower on the island of Björkö near Gothenburg in 2020. The company will install its first commercial wind turbine this year. The wooden tower will be installed with a 2-megawatt wind turbine on top and will stand 150 meters (492 feet) tall, including the blades. Eventually, Modvion has plans for a 6-megawatt installation, which will be one of the largest turbines used on land.
RWE wants to use Modvion’s patented wooden wind turbine tower. It said in a statement that laminated wood is stronger than steel proportionate to its weight, which means lighter towers and less need for expensive reinforcements.
The towers are built-in modules, which makes transporting them easier. Using a wooden tower reduces emissions by 90% when compared to conventional materials such as steel and concrete. Considering that wood also stores carbon, the tower’s climate impact is actually lower, the company says.
“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,” said Lars Borisson, Head of Onshore Origination & Development Nordics at RWE Renewables. “RWE will be assessing Modvion’s wooden tower for potential use in future wind farms.”