In just two years, Northern European companies have taken wooden wind turbines from prototype to commercialization. Now Finnish renewable product maker Stora Enso, one of the largest private forest owners in the world, is partnering up with German start-up Voodin Blade Technology to make sustainable wooden wind turbine blades.
The two companies are currently producing a 20-meter (66-foot) blade and are planning to make an 80-meter (262-foot) blade. The 20-meter blade will be installed on a 0.5-megawatt turbine near Warburg, Germany, by the end of 2022.
By developing blades with sustainable wood – laminated veneer lumber (LVL) – Stora Enso and Voodin Blades can make the blades lighter and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
LVL is a mass timber product that has a high-load-bearing capacity, and Stora Enso says it can easily support large-scale rotary blades. Unlike steel and concrete, LVL is relatively lightweight to transport on-site without heavy-duty equipment. LVL is also renewable with a minimal carbon footprint.
In addition to its collaboration with Voodin Blades, Stora Enso recently announced a partnership with Swedish wood technology company Modvion to establish wood as the material of choice for wind turbine towers.
Modvion erected the first wooden wind turbine tower on an island outside Gothenburg, Sweden, in May 2020.
Danish wind turbine maker Vestas invested in Modvion in February 2021, and in October 2022, Modvion unveiled a deal with global developer RES. Recharge notes of the latter deal:
The agreement foresees supply of about 20 towers annually for 10 years from 2026, which could be worth around SKr 4 billion ($353 million).
Because an LVL tower is modular and wood is lighter than steel, it’s also easier to transport, so towers can be built taller, which means access to stronger winds.