If you think of flat-pack furniture and meatballs when pondering Swedish craftsmanship, think again. Modvion, a pioneering Swedish startup, has erected the world’s tallest wooden turbine tower, reaching 150m (492ft), signaling a bold move towards wooden wind power.

Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion, believes the use of wood in wind turbines holds immense potential. The company’s 2-megawatt generator, perched atop the wooden tower just outside Gothenburg, recently started supplying electricity to the Swedish grid, powering around 400 homes.

Unlike traditional turbines that rely on steel for their towers, Modvion’s innovative approach employs laminated veneer lumber (LVL), composed of 144 layers of 3mm-thick spruce. This unique construction allows Modvion to control the wall’s strength and flexibility, offering a sustainable alternative to steel towers.

The wooden tower’s modular design, crafted from thin layers of glued wood, provides a lighter and more easily transportable solution. Lundman asserts that this modular approach makes it feasible to build taller towers, addressing the logistical challenges associated with delivering large steel components to turbine sites.

However, skepticism remains within the industry. Dr. Maximilian Schnippering, head of sustainability at Siemens Gamesa, a major turbine manufacturer, acknowledges the potential advantages of modular wooden towers but points out that more pieces may lead to increased transportation efforts and installation time.

Renewable energy giant Vestas, an investor in Modvion, sees significant potential in taller turbines. Jan Hagen, Vestas’ Chief Technology Officer for northern and central Europe, notes the combined economic viability and sustainability of wooden turbines, emphasizing their role in addressing transport bottlenecks.

Modvion claims a notable environmental advantage by eliminating the carbon footprint associated with steel production. Wooden turbines, made from sustainably farmed spruce, become carbon-negative, absorbing carbon dioxide during their life cycle.

As the wind power industry aims for taller turbines, Modvion envisions a future where wooden towers contribute substantially. With plans to build even taller turbines and establish a facility producing 100 wooden modular turbines annually by 2027, Modvion strives to make a lasting impact, aiming for 10% of all turbines to be wooden within a decade.

By Impact Lab