According to a Department of Energy report released in August, roughly $14 billion was invested in the wind industry last year, which accounts for a 32 percent increase in U.S. generating capacity and supports roughly 75,000 full-time jobs in 43 states. While all that clean energy is a great thing, wind turbines aren’t as green as you may think. Currently, more steel is being used in the wind energy industry than in shipbuilding. Making steel requires enormous amounts of energy, is expensive, and releases harmful CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s why a German company called TimberTower is experimenting with a new turbine design – the company recently celebrated the installation of the world’s first wooden wind turbine tower in Hanover, Germany. TimberTower says the turbine will sequester 400 tons of CO2 while generating clean, renewable energy.
The TimberTower is manufactured from a system of glued laminated timber panels and surface components, which are assembled on-site into a closed, hollow body with a hexagonal, octagonal or dodecagonal cross section. The necessary wood and surface elements are manufactured by partners from Germany and Austria. “The PEFC certificate held by our wood suppliers guarantees that the raw material used originates from ecologically, economically and socially responsible forest management,” reads the company website. This unique design makes for more efficient shipping, which further reduces carbon emissions and costs associated with wind power. The Tower erected in Hanover is about 100 meters high, and it’s capable of producing enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
The TimberTower meets all current requirements for insurance, certification and fire protection, and it’s guaranteed to last a minimum of 20 years – although there will come a time when it must be replaced. Because it’s made from wood, recycling is not only possible, it’s quite easy.
“The TimberTower is a milestone on the way to green energy production because we use 99 percent renewable resources”, says Holger Giebel, Managing Director of TimberTower. The company says it will now begin tests of the new turbine, with the hopes of producing electrical current by the end of 2012. Meanwhile TimberTower will start work on a new 140 meter tower.