LafargeHolcim has partnered with GE Renewable Energy and COBOD to create 200-metre high wind turbines that feature 3D printed concrete bases.
The multi-year collaborative project aims to increase renewable energy production across the globe.
It project marks a major stepping stone for wind turbine construction, which has traditionally been limited to a height of under 100 metres when built with steel or precast concrete. This is due to the base’s width being unable to surpass a 4.5m diameter so it can be transported without exorbitant costs.
By utilising LafargeHolcim’s custom designed 3D printed concrete, larger bases and wind turbine towers of up to 200m are possible. The custom-designed material saves costs when creating and transporting the concrete bases, resulting in a taller wind turbine that is financially attainable.
Taller wind turbines can capture stronger winds from a higher point in the sky and provide a greater amount of energy. A five megawatt (5mW) turbine at 80m can generate 15.1 gigawatts (gW) per hour annually while a 5mW, 160m turbine can generate 20.2gW per hour. This results in a 33 per cent increase in power by exceeding the 100m height limit.
In October 2019, a 10m high tower pedestal was printed, marking the first successful prototype of the 3D printed concrete.
Under the collaboration, LaFarge Holcim will process and apply the tailor-made concrete material.
“Concrete 3D printing is a very promising technology for us, as its incredible design flexibility expands the realm of construction possibilities,” LafargeHolcim’s head of R&D Edelio Bermejo said. “Being both a user and promoter of clean energy, we are delighted to be putting our material and design expertise to work in this ground-breaking project, enabling cost-efficient construction of tall wind turbine towers and accelerating access to renewable energy.”
GE Renewable Energy will offer its hand in design, manufacture and commercialisation of wind turbines under the project, while COBOD develops the robotics automation and 3D printing.