In order to accommodate an increase in wind tower heights, fiberglass and resin towers can be manufactured at the wind farm site using raw materials trucked to the site, says Brian Rice, division head for multi-scale composites and polymers at UDRI, adding that the manufacturing operation could be staffed primarily by local labor.
‘On-site fabrication eliminates the transportation problems and makes more sites accessible to wind power development,’ he says. ‘Even today, there are good potential wind farm sites in remote or hilly locations, but there aren't sufficient roads to allow for trucking in steel towers; the new design would solve that problem, as well.’
The corrosion-resistant properties of composites are also expected to be better suited than steel for offshore wind farms.
In addition to UDRI, the Ohio program team includes Ershigs Inc., Edison Materials Technology Center, WebCore Technologies, Owens Corning and Ashland Performance Materials.
The group has been working for more than two years to test materials and coupon samples and is now prepared to move into product demonstration. The partners will design, analyze, build and test a series of progressively larger components, with a goal of completing and testing a full-scale, 100-meter composite tower.