COBOD to co-develop 3D printing of tall concrete wind turbine towers

COBOD, a global 3D construction printing company, has formed a partnership with GE Renewable Energy and LafargeHolcim to co-develop wind turbines with optimised 3D printed concrete bases, reaching record heights up to 200 m. The partners will undertake a multi-year collaboration to develop this innovative solution, which will increase renewable energy production while lowering the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and optimising construction costs.

They will produce ultimately a wind turbine prototype with a printed pedestal, and a production ready printer and materials range to scale up production. The first prototype, a 10-m-high tower pedestal, was already printed in October 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. By exploring ways to economically develop taller towers that capture stronger winds, the three partners plan to generate more renewable energy per turbine.

Building on the expertise of each partner, this collaboration aims to accelerate the access and use of renewable energy worldwide. GE Renewable Energy will provide expertise related to the design, manufacture and commercialisation of wind turbines; COBOD will focus on the robotics automation and 3D printing; and LafargeHolcim will design the tailor-made concrete material, its processing and application.

“Concrete 3D printing is a very promising technology for us, as its incredible design flexibility expands the realm of construction possibilities. Being both a user and promoter of clean energy, we are delighted to be putting our material and design expertise to work in this groundbreaking project, enabling cost efficient construction of tall wind turbine towers and accelerating access to renewable energy,” explained Edelio Bermejo, head of R&D at LafargeHolcim.

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder of COBOD International A/S added, “We are extremely proud to be working with world-class companies like GE Renewable Energy and LafargeHolcim. With our groundbreaking 3D printing technology combined with the competence and resources of our partners, we are convinced that this disruptive move within the wind turbines industry will help drive lower costs and faster execution times, to benefit customers and lower the CO2 footprint from the production of energy.”

“3D printing is in GE’s DNA and we believe that large format additive manufacturing will bring disruptive potential to the wind industry. Concrete printing has advanced significantly over the last five years, and we believe is getting closer to have real application in the industrial world. We are committed to taking full advantage of this technology, both from the design flexibility it allows as well as for the logistic simplification it enables on such massive components,” said Matteo Bellucci, advanced manufacturing technology leader at GE Renewable Energy.

In its press releases, COBOD explained that wind turbine towers have typically been limited to a height of under 100 m – traditionally built in steel or precast concrete - as the width of the base cannot exceed the 4.5-m diameter that can be transported by road, without excessive additional costs. The company pointed out that printing a variable height base directly on-site with 3D-printed concrete technology will enable the construction of towers up to 150 to 200 m tall. A 5 MW turbine at 80 m normally generates 15.1 GWh per year; in comparison, the same turbine at 160 m would generate 20.2 GWh, or more than 33% extra power.

To see the video of the 3D printing of a 10-m prototype concrete tower, click here.

Images: COBOD International