GE (NYSE: GE) announced the acquisition of next generation technology from Wind Tower Systems, LLC (WTS) that is expected to enable taller wind turbine towers. The need for taller, cost-efficient towers is becoming an important factor in the wind industry as blade lengths increase.
WTS has been working on the development of the space frame tower system technology for use at wind farm sites that require hub heights of 100 meters or more. The space frame tower technology is a highly engineered and optimized structure that will handle the unique static and dynamic loads generated by wind turbines.
WTS also has been developing innovative ways to transport and install these taller wind turbine towers. The space frame technology will use standard flatbed trucks. Hi Jack system technology can eliminate the need for heavy lift cranes during installation. These new technologies offer the ability to cost effectively extend the tower height, which in turn enables the turbine to produce more energy.
“We see great potential in the addition of this technology to our portfolio not only for our customers but also for the wind industry as a whole,” said Victor Abate, vice president-renewable energy for GE Power & Water. “Taller towers are an essential complement to longer blades. Longer blades capture more energy and in turn improve return on investment for wind farm developers.”
“The taller space frame towers and integrated lifting system concepts, developed with the support of the U.S. DOE and California Energy Commission, have been designed to drive lower wind energy costs,” said Thomas Conroy, CEO of Wind Tower Systems. ”We are delighted that the development of the company’s products will be completed and commercialized by GE.”
Plans are underway to install a prototype of the GE’s space frame tower system technology to validate and test its design later this year with commercial availability targeted for 2012.