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The pursuit of renewable energy sources has led to remarkable innovations, one of which is the wind turbine. A powerful sight and even more powerful energy source, these have become a staple in many countries’ green plans, helping the world on its journey towards net carbon zero. Now, though, these steel and concrete structures have had a sustainable makeover, and it is one which starts with timber.

Our EcoChoice timber team has found out everything you need to know.

What Are Timber Wind Turbines?

It does what it says on the tin! Timber wind turbines (a.k.a wooden wind turbines) are wind turbines made either entirely – aside from the mechanics – or partly from timber. From the gigantic towers to the blades themselves, it is all made from wood.

This is a really new concept in the world of green energy, but one which is moving quickly! Prototypes were rapidly developed into real products, with Voodin Blade pushing the timber turbine blades to market, and Modovin creating incredible laminated timber towers. In fact, it was as early as 2020 that Sweden installed their first timber wind turbine! Now, they are building the tallest wind turbine in the world, and it will be made entirely of wood.

What Are the Benefits of Wooden Wind Turbines?

But why bother? Most of us are used to seeing turbines made from steel and concrete, and is the move to timber worth it? In short, yes. For a little bit of a longer answer, here’s why:

Renewable Material

Unlike steel and concrete, timber is renewable! As wind turbines are designed to create renewable energy, it makes sense that the material used to make them should also be equally sustainable.

CO2 Sequestration

Steel and concrete both come with pretty hefty carbon footprints because of their manufacturing process. Timber, on the other hand, can actually be carbon-negative, meaning that it absorbs more carbon during production than it releases. This is thanks to CO₂ sequestration, where the carbon dioxide absorbed during the growth of the tree is kept inside the timber whilst it stands as a turbine, reducing the total carbon footprint of the construction by 30%.

Transportation Efficiency

Wooden wind turbine components are lighter than their steel and concrete counterparts. This results in easier transportation to remote or challenging locations, reducing the carbon footprint of travel. It is also good to note that companies like Modovin boast much easier transportation in general, with normal lorries being all which are needed to transport their innovative ‘modules’.

Are There Any Challenges?

There is no doubt that timber is a more sustainable option for wind turbines which are a whole lot easier to transport. But it is also important to consider the longevity of timber.

Different timber species are more durable than others, making it vital that tough and strong timber is used. It is also likely that companies will use modified timber which has enhanced characteristics to help it last longer, e.g the laminated timber (Glulam) used by Modovin.

The renewable energy sector is highly competitive, and transitioning to a new material such as wood can be challenging. Convincing investors and stakeholders of the benefits and feasibility of wooden wind turbines is a significant hurdle. Fortunately, countries such as Sweden and Germany are leading the way, pioneering a new, greener method to create renewable energy.

Find Sustainable Timber at EcoChoice

If you have a project – small or large – which would benefit from timber, our team at EcoChoice can help. We supply FSC-certified timber across the UK for public and private projects, adding plenty of sustainable points to your building! To learn more, get in touch with us today and we will be happy to help.

Image: Alex Unders / Shutterstock.com

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