Concrete wind turbine towers are not a new concept, but apparently the technology is something the US Department of Energy wants to explore a little more. According to their media release, they have awarded Iowa University engineers $1 million to study the use of high-strength concrete in order to build taller wind turbine towers. Why? Because taller towers means getting the undisturbed and more powerful winds higher off the ground.
Sri Sritharan, who is the Iowa State University’s Wilson Engineering Professor in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and leader of the College of Engineering’s Wind Energy Initiative, has said, ““I think this will revolutionize wind energy…“We won’t need to transport these big tubular towers on the highways and we’ll harvest energy where it’s needed.”
According to the release, the advantages of concrete wind turbine towers are as follows:
- They can reach beyond 80 meters, providing energy companies with access to the faster and steadier winds at 100 meters and higher.
- They increase the amount of time turbines are productive.
- They allow wind energy harvesting in regions of the country where favorable winds are only above 100 meters and demand for energy is high.
- And, they contribute to the reduction of wind energy costs by reducing the production and transportation costs of towers
The technology originally created by Sritharan, is called Hexcrete, and uses “precast and easily transportable components to build hexagon-shaped towers from concrete panels connected to concrete columns.”
Sritharan project summary notes:
“If used for the entire height, the Hexcrete concept will eliminate transportation challenges and engage a well-established U.S.-based precast concrete industry in the wind tower business, thereby greatly reducing reliance on foreign steel and increasing the job market in the U.S.”
Nice idea in theory, but let’s see what the final results say after the 18-month project is complete!