Wooden wind farms? Stora Enso and Modvion tout wood as greener option for turbine towers

Could wind farms one day be made from wood, which would provide a more sustainable and energy efficient alternative to steel?

That is the hope of biomaterials developing Stora Enso, which has teamed up with wood technology firm Modvion in a bid to try and establish wood as the material of choice for wind turbine towers, which they argue could unlock myriad environmental, economic, and energy generation benefits.

The collaboration announced this week by the two firms is aimed at demonstrating the “vast possibilities in using wood in demanding constructions”, including an estimated 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from wooden wind towers compared to those made from steel.

Moreover, using wood as a building material enables the storage of carbon dioxide that has been taken up by trees from the atmosphere during their growth, thereby reducing the embodied CO2 of wind farms.

“To solve the climate crisis, we need more renewable energy as well as increased use of sustainable, wooden constructions,” said Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion. “Together with Stora Enso we can enable both.”

Modvion claims it can build wind turbine towers using ‘laminated veneer lumber’ (LVL), a wood-based manufactured material by Stora Enso which the firms claims is, proportionate to its weight, stronger than steel.

Wind turbine towers can be built in lightweight modules using this LVL material, enabling taller towers to be erected that captured stronger wind speeds and thereby result in more cost-efficient energy production, according to the firms.

And, as LVL wind towers are lighter than steel, it also enables more efficient transportation of material on public roads without the need for permits or road constructions, they claim.

Lars Völkel, the executive vice president for division wood products at Stora Enso, said the two firms aimed to “push and demonstrate the possibilities with wood.”

“As one of the largest sawn wood producers and private forest owners in the world we play an important role in the transformation to a greener society,” he said. “By contributing our expertise to Modvion we can further help make a difference in mitigating climate change and supporting the EU’s drive to increase renewable energy production.”

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