Utah, USA - Windtower Composites receives $1.5 million grant to demonstrate low speed wind Turbine

Grant from the CEC helps test new turbine tower materials and erection methods to revolutionise the wind energy industry

A recent grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) will help test new turbine tower materials and erection methods that could revolutionize the wind energy industry. As wind turbines gain in size and capacity, they become more cost effective as power plants. At the same time, however, the freight costs associated with transportation of the components - particularly the towers - and the necessity for specialized cranes become a considerable part of a project's financial equation.

Windtower Composites (WT) in partnership with SeaWest Wind Power, Inc has been selected as one of three technology teams awarded a grant for the CEC’s “Expanded Wind Regime Turbine Technology and Intermittency Management Demonstration” project solicitation. WindTower Composites, a Heber City company, received $1.5 million to demonstrate its composite wind turbine tower at a site in California in Dec. ’05. The Altamount pass site, owned by SeaWest was specifically selected for the demonstration of expanded wind resources at greater heights using the new tower technology. Previously, WT received two consecutive grants from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) for $850,000 to develop, engineer, and test the components of a 80 meter, 1.5 megawatt, lightweight wind turbine tower that uses a unique space frame geometry of carbon composite tubes. This funding also supported the engineering of a crane-less elevator lifting system for installation of the turbine and blades. A final 65-meter and preliminary 125 meter tower design along with subscale testing have been completed with help from Brigham Young University and Southern Utah University. Full-scale tube manufacturing as well as ultimate and fatigue testing at Brigham Young University will begin in late winter and is scheduled for completion in June ‘05.

The CEC grant money will offset some of the remaining costs to manufacture the crane-less elevator lifting system. WT will then use 50 percent matching funds in partnership with SeaWest Wind Power, Inc., to purchase the 1.5 MW wind turbine to be used for testing and certification of a 80m-tower/turbine combination at the California test site. This demonstration is the first step towards the certification of the world’s tallest tower for 1.5 MW turbines at 125m expected in ’06. According to the company, the taller tower is expected to demonstrate a substantial reduction in costs of energy in even low wind shear locals. However, certification is necessary to sell these towers to turbine manufacturers and other third parties. Once certification of the Wind Tower Composites has concluded, WT plans to build a manufacturing plant for the turbine towers in rural Utah in 2006 creating jobs and increasing its tax base.

Windtower Composites developed space frame towers to support large wind turbines comprising segments of lightweight composite tubes assembled into a 3-d matrix. For aesthetics, the frame is covered overall with a thin composite sheathing to achieve the look of a steel tube tower. Used to support 1.2MW turbines in heights from 60 to 100m and larger, the tower can be easily assembled at a wind farm site. Less than 10% the weight of steel tube towers, the lighter weight and onsite assembly enables self-erection and the complete elimination of expensive larger cranes from the job site. In addition, the efficient use of lightweight composites provides a more economical structure than standard steel tube towers and reduces the escalating costs of ground transportation. Contrasted to steel towers, this innovative structure has a combined cost reduction of greater than 35% resulting in a greater than 10% reduction in cost of energy at a typical class 5 wind farm.
Windtower Composites
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
USA, Utah, Windtower Composites, SeaWest Wind Power, wind energy, wind power, wind turbine, wind farm, renewable energy, offshore, onshore, rotor blade

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