Washington, D.C. — Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Dr. David Danielson, announced $2 million through the Taller Hub Heights funding opportunity, for two organizations that will advance wind energy technologies for harnessing stronger winds available at higher heights, potentially increasing the amount of clean, renewable electricity the nation produces.
Through innovative construction processes that will cost-effectively manufacture taller wind turbine towers, these projects in Iowa and Massachusetts will help reduce the cost of wind energy and expand the geographic areas where wind turbines can successfully be economically deployed in the United States.
In the northeastern, southeastern, and western United States, winds near the ground are often slower and turbulent, reducing the amount of electricity installed turbines can generate. Taller wind turbines can capture the stronger, more consistent winds available at elevated heights, increasing the number of potential locations where wind farms can supply cost-effective power to American businesses and homeowners. However, the height of wind turbine towers is currently limited by logistical and transportation constraints associated with moving enormous tower components to their installation sites.
While wind turbines installed in 2013 had an average height of 260 feet, the projects announced today will support new design and manufacturing techniques to produce towers nearly 400 feet tall.
Keystone Towers of Boston will implement an on-site spiral welding system that will enable turbine towers to be produced directly at the installation site, freeing projects of transportation constraints. Adapted from an in-field welding process used by the pipe manufacturing industry, Keystone’s spiral welding technique can be scaled up to produce large diameter steel towers that are lighter than standard turbine towers, which will lower costs.
Iowa State University will develop a hexagonal-shaped tower that combines high-strength concrete with pre-stressed steel reinforcements to assemble individual tower modules and wall segments that can be easily transported and joined together on-site. Due to the modular design, thicker towers capable of supporting turbines at increased heights can be produced at a reduced cost.
Improving the manufacturing process for taller wind turbine towers supports the Energy Department's broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to increase American competitiveness in the production of clean energy products and boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness across the board by increasing energy productivity.