A new research facility which hopes to 3D print the concrete bases of giant wind turbine towers has been launched, with those involved in the project hoping it will help to lower costs for the industry as turbines grow in size, Trend reports citing CNBC.
In an announcement last week, GE Renewable Energy said the research would “enable GE to 3D print the bottom portion of the wind turbine towers on-site at wind farms.” This would also, it said, reduce transportation costs.
Danielle Merfeld, who is chief technology officer at GE Renewable Energy, said in a statement that it was “particularly important to continuously improve the ways we design, manufacture, transport, and construct the large components of modern wind farms.”
The facility in Bergen, New York, is described as being “at the heart” of a collaboration with cement giant Holcim and Cobod, a firm which specializes in 3D printing. The multi-year partnership was announced back in 2020.
According to GE, the printer in Bergen is “the size of a three story building” and able to print tower sections as tall as 20 meters. Henrik Lund-Nielsen, the founder and general manager of Cobod, said the printer was “the largest of its kind in the world” and could “print in excess of 10 tons of real concrete per hour.” GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X turbine will have a height of up to 260 meters (853 feet), a rotor diameter of 220 meters and 107-meter blades.
It’s expected that “first applications in the field” will take place at some point in the next five years, GE says.