GE to Make Taller Wind Turbines Using On-site 3D Printing

GE Renewable Energy, COBOD and LafargeHolcim have announced a partnership to co-develop wind turbines with optimised 3D printed concrete bases, reaching heights of up to 200 metres.

Taller turbines can increase renewable energy production while lowering the cost of energy and optimising construction costs. The partners will produce a wind turbine prototype with a printed pedestal, and a production-ready printer and materials range to scale up production. The first prototype, a 10-meter high tower pedestal, was successfully printed in October 2019 in Copenhagen.

GE Renewable Energy will provide design, manufacture and commercialisation for the wind turbines, COBOD will focus on the robotics automation and 3D printing and LafargeHolcim will design the tailor-made concrete material, its processing and application.

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 project.

Traditionally built in steel or precast concrete, wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height of under 100 metres, as the width of the base cannot exceed the 4.5-meter diameter that can be transported by road, without excessive additional costs. Printing a variable height base directly on-site with 3D-printed concrete technology will enable the construction of towers up to 150 to 200 meters tall. Typically, a 5 MW turbine at 80 metres generates, yearly, 15.1 GWh. In comparison, the same turbine at 160 meters would generate 20.2 GWh, or more than 33% extra power.

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