Tallest wooden wind turbine is stronger than steel.

Tallest wooden wind turbine is stronger than steel.

The World’s Tallest Wooden Wind Turbine: A Sustainable Revolution

Modvion is currently assembling the wooden wind turbine tower at a site near Skara, Sweden.

There’s a wind turbine being built in the forests of Sweden — or should I say, from the forests. Modvion, a budding startup based in Scandinavia, is currently constructing the world’s tallest wooden wind turbine, set to be completed this year. This remarkable tower will stand tall at 105 meters and is being built for Varberg Energi, a local energy utility, at their wind power site near the town of Skara. Mounted atop this wooden tower will be a 2-megawatt turbine made by Danish wind giant Vestas, capable of powering around 500 homes once operational.

The innovation lies in the use of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) to construct these towers. This material is produced by gluing several massive layers of wood together, giving it a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel, while also being 30% lighter. With the completed wooden sections of the tower assembled at Modvion’s factory in Gothenburg, the structure is currently being put together on-site.

As the demand for wind energy continues to surge globally, there is a need for taller and more sustainable wind turbines. Here, wood has emerged as a potential solution. According to Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion, “Wood enables building higher towers at a lower cost, which makes wind power more efficient since winds are stronger and more stable higher up.” Richard Cochrane, an industry expert from the University of Exeter, believes that wood-based modular approaches have the potential to revolutionize wind-harnessing structures, delivering bigger and better turbines.

Moreover, wood offers a more sustainable alternative to steel, which is responsible for approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions. Modvion claims that their wooden towers are “carbon negative,” meaning they store more CO2 than is emitted during their production. Additionally, once these towers reach the end of their life cycle, which is estimated to be around 25-30 years, they can be reused as building materials. Notably, the lifespan of these towers surpasses the time it takes for the trees used in their construction to regrow, making them a truly sustainable resource.

Modvion has already successfully built a 30-meter prototype of its wooden turbine on Björkö Island in Sweden. They have two other projects in progress, including the one for Varberg. Looking ahead, Modvion plans to build larger turbines with wooden towers by late next year or early 2025, further expanding the scope of their innovation. The project is part-financed by the Swedish Energy Agency, the Västra Götaland region, and the EU program Horizon 2020 EIC Accelerator.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Finnish manufacturer Stora Enso, one of the world’s largest private forest owners, has partnered with German startup Voodin Blade Technology to develop sustainable wooden wind turbine blades. They have already produced and installed a 20-meter blade for a 0.5 MW turbine and have plans for an impressive 80-meter blade.

Excitingly, Stora Enso has also joined forces with Modvion, raising the possibility of a near future where a wind turbine made almost entirely from wood powers our clean energy needs. This collaboration showcases the collective effort and determination of companies and startups to embrace sustainability and revolutionize the renewable energy industry. With the construction of the world’s tallest wooden wind turbine nearing completion, we can look forward to a future where sustainable and efficient wind power becomes the norm, rooted in the very forests it aims to protect.