Wooden wind tower: Vestas strengthens collaboration with Modvion

Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, has recently made a new investment in Swedish wood technology company Modvion, which last year successfully installed its first wooden wind tower.

“Our collaboration with Modvion holds significant potential to help accelerate the energy transition and further increase sustainability within the wind energy industry,” said Bo Svoldgaard, senior vice president and head of innovation and concepts at Vestas, as quoted in a press release issued by Modvion in June this year.

“Modvion’s towers are lighter than traditional ones and have a modular product architecture which aligns well with Vestas’ strong focus on modularisation,” explained Mr Svoldgaard. “The construction facilitates transportation to logistically challenged places and allows for increased turbine hub heights, potentially contributing to a reduction in cost of energy.”

According to the press release, the corporate venture capital arm of Vestas, Vestas Ventures, boosted its investment in Modvion through a recent directed share issue. The first investment was already made in February 2021.

Modvion further highlighted the benefits of its wooden towers, which can significantly reduce emissions from wind turbine tower manufacturing operations. The modular design also enables higher towers to be built at a lower cost. The carbon dioxide absorbed by the trees during their growth period remains stored in the wooden tower, allowing climate neutral wind energy.

”We are excited for the opportunity to support the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer in reaching their ambitious sustainability targets and offering their customers even more climate-smart wind energy. To tackle the climate crisis, we need more renewable energy and increased use of sustainable, wooden constructions, and Modvion’s technology enables both,“ said Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion AB.

Vestas’ new investment will support Modvion’s rapid production scale-up, with a long-term goal of integrating wooden towers in Vestas’ offerings to accelerate market adoption.

‘Stronger than steel’

In April 2020, Modvion’s first wooden tower was erected on Björkö outside Gothenburg, Sweden, together with Chalmers University of Technology and the Swedish Wind Power Technology Centre.

The 30-m-high tower was built with laminated veneer lumber (LVL), and is currently used for research purposes. The first commercial tower is planned for 2022.

“By weight, the wooden construction is stronger than steel,” said Modvion, adding that the wooden towers “are built in modules and assembled on site. This modular concept enables higher towers to be built while still using normal roads for transportation.”

In a separate press release last year, Mr Lundman also emphasised the importance of this innovation. “This is a major breakthrough that paves the way for the next generation of wind turbines. Laminated wood is stronger than steel at the same weight and by building in modules, the wind turbines can be taller. By building in wood, we also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing and instead store carbon dioxide in the design.”

Images and video: Modvion