Concrete @ your Fingertips


Concrete towers for wind farms

Harnessing wind energy is one of the most economically developed and rapidly growing renewable energy sources, both in the UK and worldwide. Looking to the future, the UK is committed to working towards a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. A core part of this aim is the development of renewable energy technologies such as wind. The UKs wind resources are the best and most geographically diverse in Europe, more than enough to meet the target of generating 10% of UK electricity from renewable sources by 2010. At present, most recently installed onshore UK wind towers typically have a rotor diameter of 40m and a tower height of 70m. Larger machines are likely to be installed over the next few years, requiring towers that stand up to 100m tall and beyond. The consequence of taller towers is the need to increase the structural strength and stiffness required to carry both increased turbine weight and bending forces under wind action.

Concrete is a versatile material that can be used in many different ways. In Concrete towers for onshore and offshore wind farms, published by the Concrete Centre (www.concretecentre.com), concept designs have been developed involving the use of concrete for wind towers, with the aim of achieving cost competitive and practical solutions for UK conditions, both onshore and offshore. Design solutions for onshore and offshore applications have many similarities, though there are some profound differences, e.g. offshore structures are subjected to additional loadings from waves and currents, and are in generally more aggressive environments.

The aim of the document is to encourage the development of concrete wind tower solutions and to illustrate how the benefits of concrete construction can be realised more fully by the wind industry. The intention of the document is not to propose definitive solutions but rather to highlight practical methods and technologies that could lead to competitive solutions. Conceptual configurations are presented for both onshore and offshore facilities, along with design and construction philosophies. Whole life issues are accounted for, including fabrication, transportation, installation, maintenance, decommissioning, removal and disposal.