Tall Wood Wind Turbines

In “Tall Wood (Summer 2012), Sarah DeWeerdt explained how skyscrapers of the future could be made more sustainable by revisiting an old building material: wood. She described a Vancouver-based architect’s plans for a modular, wooden high-rise that could serve as an urban carbon sink.

Some alternative-energy innovators are onto the wood idea as well. The German engineering firm TimberTower has designed wind-turbine masts made of timber and laminated-wood panels that can be assembled on-site. One limiting factor the company identifies for building taller turbines (which capture higher-altitude winds that blow more strongly and steadily than ground-level winds) is the transport of the large-diameter masts. Because of its modular design and the ability to build on-site, TimberTower says it can economically construct turbines up to 200 meters high. And, for just a 100-meter-high tower, the design saves 300 tons of steel and sequesters about 400 tons of CO2, according to the company website. TimberTower is now testing a 100-meter tower in Hanover, Germany, which is expected to produce electricity for 1,000 homes.

Photo ©Petra Pschunder