The 450-foot prototype wind turbine GE has built in Tehachapi, California, isn’t the biggest tower on the market. That honor goes to this 8-megawatt monster that Vestas is trialling in Denmark (its “swept area” is an amazing 227,380 square feet).
But GE’s design does have some unusual features. For one, instead of very large pre-fabricated pieces, the tower uses “lattice girders” that can be fastened together on-site. That means contractors do not need specialized long-trucks to get where they need to go. Meanwhile, the whole thing is wrapped in a PVC-polyester “space frame,” so no animals venture inside.
See a time-lapse video of the construction here:
GE reckons the flat-pack concept could make venturing to remote spots easier. The tower’s parts are small enough for a conventional shipping container. Using less steel, the structure is also cheaper than a solid-shape design. According to Greentech Media, a 10-meter-diameter base could use 20% to 30% less material than a typical 100-meter design.
That could help the wind industry build bigger, more efficient turbines for less, and cut the price of renewable power into the bargain. But we’ll have to see if the lattice-work makes it to market first. As we say, it’s just a prototype for now.