Enhancing EverGreen.

Wind energy on pathway towards real net-zero impact – wood-based green energy infrastructure in the middle of forest

World’s tallest wooden wind turbine has started production in Gotherburg, Sweden. Tip height for the blade is at 150 m while the wooden tower itself reaches 105 m, built of 144 layers of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). LVL is one of the engineered wood products that enable specialized wood building with an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, long spans and modularity.

Swedish start-up Modvion that has built this tallest wind turbine tower sees many advantages in building with wood compared to traditional steel structures. As wind turbines grow taller, transportation of large components becomes more costly and complicated. Access to remote land areas is challenged by road infrastructure, bridges and tunnels. Wooden towers can be assembled on site from components while steel structures should ideally be transported in one piece. Weight of wood is another clear benefit as wood components are considerably more light weight. Building from engineered wood components allows construction of taller wind turbines in more challenging locations, at lower costs of transportation and construction.

Renewable energy production needs to reach net-zero carbon impact and net-zero impact on biodiversity. As wood materials, such as laminated veneer lumber, are carbon neutral themselves, this helps to reduce the carbon footprint a lot. According to a life-cycle analysis from the Swedish research institute RISE, using a wooden tower reduces emissions by 90% when compared to a conventional steel tower of the same height and load. Considering that the wooden tower also stores carbon, the tower’s climate impact is even lower. Tower is built from sustainably harvested, PEFC certified wood.

By choosing a site with least impact for nature and biodiversity, the negative footprint can be reduced even further. However, there will almost always be a residual impact that affects the surrounding nature. By designing appropriate nature restoration and conservation measures, this impact can be fully offset and renewable energy production can reach net-zero impact from biodiversity perspective also. Future energy production needs to be fossil free and have a positive impact on nature.

For more information, see https://modvion.com and https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-67718719