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Reducing wind energy costs with a stronger, taller wind turbine towers made from wood modules

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Modvion (Reducing wind energy costs with a stronger, taller wind turbine towers made from wood modules)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-09-30

Founded in 2016, Modvion is a wood technology company with patented technology for high-altitude wind power towers, using a modular design and constructed from laminated veneer lumber (LVL). During spring 2020, Modvion installed a 1st pilot tower, 30m tall, near Gothenburg. The EIC Accelerator project enables the first commercial LVL wind tower to be installed, close to the urban area Skara in Sweden, during the summer 2022. The carbon dioxide absorbed by the trees during their growth period remains stored in the LVL wind tower, enabling climate neutral wind energy.
In the next ten years, wind power capacity in Europe is expected to double. To maximize energy output and efficiency, one of the most promising innovations are high-altitude wind power plants. These can exploit up to 2x stronger winds and thus lower the cost of energy. Current high-altitude tower components are difficult to transport due to their size – the tower base diameter can’t exceed 4.3 meters due to road infrastructure limits (e.g. tunnels), meaning that special infrastructure would have to be built or other longer routes are chosen. Therefore, a strong, yet modular design, could further advance the production of tall wind power plants and consequently speed up Europe’s transition into greener energy.

Modvion brings to market the next generation of wind turbine towers in laminated wood. Our unique technology, demonstrated in the 30m tall prototype, allows us to create a modular tower, which is large in diameter, easy to assemble, and does not emit greenhouse gases during production. Based on industry data, calculations show that one 150-meter tower built with Modvion’s technology can avoid emissions of 2,000 tons of CO2 when replacing a similar steel tower. In the light of the latest IPCC reports, and that all 27 EU Member States committed to turning the EU into the first climate neutral continent by 2050, the innovations like Modvion’s are much needed.

Current solutions are designed simply to provide sufficient support for a wind turbine and its installed capacity. For a turbine to be cost-effective, it must be available to produce electricity 24 hours per day. At higher altitudes, wind velocity is higher and has less turbulence, which gives wind turbines access to more continuous airflow, thus producing more electricity. There are multiple tall wind tower types, 150 m and above, currently available or under development, each offering various advantages. Modvion’s uniqueness comes from being built from wood and being able to cut 2,000 tons of CO2 per 150m tower when replacing a steel-based wind turbine tower. Furthermore, a modular tower has a huge advantage when come to transport on public roads. The maximum hight of gods transport are 4.30 meters (tunnels and viaducts) which limits the high steel tower constructions who needs a larger section diameter.

Thanks to laminated wood having 55% higher specific strength than steel per weight, our towers typically weighs 30% less than steel towers. This gives a huge advantage when coming to site assembly where an extensive cost carrier comes from the time large cranes are needed at site. The cranes hour rate can significantly be reduced when using a less weighty material and modular towers. The total cost of the towers will also be reduced when using a less expensive material, and since the tower construction having 55% higher specific strength reduces the total need of materials in the even higher wind power towers to be constructed.

The EIC Accelerator project enables the first commercial LVL wind tower to be erected, including development methodology, factory build up and installation at site. Modvion has organized the project work around five work packages (Project Management, Tower Design & Development, Manufacturing of Tower Modules, Site Development Preparation & Installation and Ethics requirements). Each work package including different objectives, all listed below:
To implement the management principles described in the Project Management section.
To ensure effective implementation of the project in line with guidelines from EC, the project contract & the Grant Agreement.
To develop the tower design through aero-elastic simulations, structural equations, and FE-analysis.
To verify the design through laboratory tests of the structural strength.
To develop production specifications for all tower components, including production drawings.
To manufacture the tower modules.
To prepare the installation site before installation.
To install and commission the power plant at the site.
To ensure compliance with the 'ethics requirements'.
To fulfil the project objectives, Modvion has expanded the project team from 6 to 18 dedicated employees. The expansion needed have required a new office building in the same building as the new tower factory. The team are now in the final stage of factory for the LVL tower build-up.
Before the summer, the project passed the project gate where the design work was completed, and the realisation of the construction took over. The results given secure the durability of construction and enables manufacturing of the tower parts.
The ongoing project management work ensures fulfilment of the objectives and keep track of the time, budget and resources needed. The risk mitigation and the quality work are in progress throughout the total project and the risk register and quality assurance plan are continuously updated.
The tower will be erected at a site outside Skara in Sweden. Work have been performed to secure the site, including building permits and landlord agreements. In parallel, the installation processes for the site erection work are developed, including HSE manuals and safety requirements.

The further work to ensure the tower modules to be manufactured and perform the site assembly are in progress and in line with the project timeline.
The project has so far:
- contributed with 10 new permanent employees within the green energy sector. The project team consists of a good mix of dedicated and highly qualified persons who will bring the first commercial LVL wind tower to the market, meet the three project objectives and thereby contribute towards the goal of a climate neutral continent by 2050.
- rent and renovate an office facility in connection with the factory unit. The factory unit has also been renovated and are in the process to be populated with all the equipment needed for the production.
- secured a 20-year Lease Agreement for the erection site and can offer several possible work opportunities in connection with the construction work in spring 2022.
- achieved construction results which supports the goal that Modvion’s will be the first to install a LVL Wind Power tower which store CO2 instead of emit CO2, since the carbon dioxide absorbed by the trees during their growth period remains stored in the LVL wind tower. This together with many other innovative technologies will hopefully help us prevent the climate crises.
- a design which are modular which gives the benefit of an easy logistics as the modules do not exceed the physical/legal limits for the transport roads.
- results that support the goal that wind tower in laminated wood can be used to reach higher heights while reducing weight, in comparison with steel towers.
The site in the Skara municipally where the wind power tower will be erected
The Modvion building, including new office spaces and the manufacturing unit
Part of the team in front of the 30-meter erected wind power tower at Björkö in Sweden
Test samples, module with and without coating
New processing tools in the factory
Part of the team in the office space at Björkö in Sweden
New processing tools in the factory