Environmental Protection

GE Develops 'Space Frame' Wind Tower

The design wraps a fiberglass coat around a metal latticework. It will allow customers to "go taller in new locations," said Cliff Harris, general manager of GE's Renewable Energy business in Europe.

GE announced March 10 that engineers in its wind power unit have developed a 450-foot tall “space frame” tower that will help wind farm operators erect turbines in places that were previously inaccessible. Dispensing with the standard steel tube towers, the new design is a metal latticework wrapped in a fiberglass, weather-resistant coat that is strong enough to last for the lifetime of the structure. The lattice girders can be loaded inside shipping containers and onto ordinary trucks and bolted together at the final destination, according to GE.

GE unveiled it at a European Wind Energy Association conference held in Barcelona this week. The company built a prototype of the five-legged tower at a testing site in Tehachapi, Calif., and reports that it supports a rotor almost 400 feet in diameter and a 2.75 megawatt turbine.

"The space frame tower helps our customers go taller in new locations, further enabling the growth of wind energy," said Cliff Harris, general manager of GE’s Renewable Energy business in Europe. "This next innovation in wind turbine technology is a stepping stone towards towers taller than 150 meters in Europe."

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