GE Joins Wind Tower Revolution

The fix here is that the pylon isassembled surely in panels using space frame ideas.  There is plenty of engineering options withsuch an approach including letting the outer panels carry a lot of the stress.  In the meantime, its crane stays intact andremains in place to allow repairs as an ongoing option.

I am sure the wind tunnels testswere interesting.  A rectangular crosssection for the pylon suggests asymmetric stress loads and plenty of stressvariations which are difficult to safely model. We will have to wait until a few weather gale force winds.

Otherwise this approach shouldeasily slash the cost of the pylon and its install, all of which makesfinancing much easier.

GE has the horsepower to financeand manufacture this technology into the dominant system and they certainly will.

GE Joins Effort to Revolutionize Wind TowersWith Acquisition

The white pylon is so 1992, says Wind TowerSystems.

General Electric today announced it will buy Wind TowerSystems, a move that could change the look, height and economics of windturbines.

Wind Towerhas created something it calls the Space Frame Tower(see picture). Unlike the sleek, white pylons that hold up most wind turbines,the Space Frame tapers as it goes toward the top. The structure, ideally, willlet wind farms put turbines more than 100 meters off the ground. Taller towerswill allow the industry to move to longer blades, which will allow a singleturbine to produce more power.

The turbine gets mounted on the pole by that crane at the top, calledthe Hi-Jack System.
The structure, though, is really about economics. The Space Frame canbe disassembled into smaller components that are far easier to transport thanthe dino-sized sections of steel pipe used on traditional wind turbines.Mobilization and de-mobilization can gobble up to ten percent of the cost of aturbine. Instead of 36 trucks being needed to transport all the necessary partsto a site, it only takes six. The Hi-Jack also lets wind farm owners repair aturbine right away, instead of waiting around for a crane to become available.

Pylons are complex structures. Turbines weigh several tons and thespinning blades create tremendous, and irregular, forces.

Commercial availability is slated for 2012.

A few other companies are looking at ways of cutting the cost out ofwind by changing the pylon. In ScotlandSeaEnergyRenewables has figured out a a way to mount turbines on top of theplatforms used for oil derricks. (The company was started by execs who spentdecades building the structures that drill for oil in the North Sea.) The platforms cost less because they require less steel andconstruction time is greatly reduced.

If this movement takes off, wind could go down in price. The onlylosers will be the investment banks: they will have to change all of those adsthat feature traditional wind turbines.

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