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A recent grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) will help test new turbine tower materials and erection methods that could revolutionise the wind energy industry. Wind Tower Composites (WT), in partnership with SeaWest Wind Power Inc, has been selected as one of three technology teams awarded a grant for the CEC’s ‘Expanded Wind Regime Turbine Technology and Intermittency Management Demonstration’ project solicitation. Wind Tower Composites, a Heber City company, has received US$ 1.5 million to demonstrate its composite wind turbine tower at a site in California in December 2005.
The company developed space frame towers to support large wind turbines comprising segments of lightweight composite tubes assembled into a 3D matrix. For aesthetics, the frame is covered overall with a thin composite sheathing to achieve the look of a steel tube tower. Used to support 1.2MW turbines in heights from 60 to 100m and larger, the tower can easily be assembled at a wind farm site. The lighter weight (less than 10% of the weight of steel tube towers) and on-site assembly enables self-erection and the complete elimination of expensive larger cranes from the job site. In addition, the efficient use of lightweight composites provides a more economic structure than standard steel tube towers and reduces the escalating costs of ground transportation.