Where Is The World’s Tallest Wooden Wind Turbine?

The world’s tallest wooden wind turbine started turning last year near the town of Skara, not far from the city of Gothenburg in Sweden – a nation renowned for its flatpack wood furniture.

With a total height of 150 meters (492 feet) including the blades, the turbine features a 105-meter (345-foot) tower constructed out of wood, according to the company behind the feat, Modvion.

As reported by BBC News, the tower’s 2-megawatt generator started swirling and began supplying electricity to the local electricity grid late last year, providing power for approximately 400 homes.

Wind power is one of the lowest-priced energy sources available today and one of the more sustainable options. However, it comes at a price. Most turbines are constructed out of steel, a sturdy metal with a heavy carbon footprint. More powerful turbines require bigger towers, thereby increasing the demand for this burdensome metal.

In a push to overcome this problem, Modvion developed the so-called “Wind Of Change,” the first commercial wooden wind turbine tower. 

Modvion’s “Wind Of Change” under assembly in their Swedish factory.
Image credit: Modvion

The structure can be built on-site in seven sections with a total of 28 modules. This modularity makes the tower easier to transport via roads and sea, unlike conventional steel towers which can be hefty and awkward to move. 

The turbine tower’s walls are made with 144 layers of 3-millimeter-thick (0.1 inch) laminated veneer lumber that have been glued and compressed together. The wood came from about 200 spruces, the same species used for Christmas trees, all of which were sustainably farmed. 

“It’s our secret recipe,” David Olivegren, co-founder of Modvion, former architect, and boat builder, told the BBC.

“Wood and glue is the perfect combination, we’ve known that for hundreds of years. And because using wood is lighter [than steel] you can build taller turbines with less material,” he added.

Standing alone in the Swedish countryside, the single and relatively small wooden wind tower won’t make a significant dent in the global climate crisis.

Nevertheless, Modvion believes this proof-of-concept has a great amount of potential and has dreams of going even bolder with their plans in the future. By 2027, the company wants to create 100 wooden towers each year, perhaps on a much larger scale than present. 

“The potential height of a wooden tower is 1,500 meters [4,921 feet]. 150 [meters / 492 feet] seems like a good place to start,” Modvion says on its website.

An earlier version of this article was published in December 2023.

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