Mobile Factory Design for On-Site Wind Turbine Tower Production

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

10855 DOVER ST STE 700 Array
Westminster, CO 80021
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Larger, taller wind turbines could significantly reduce the cost of wind energy and enable much broader deployment. For example, a recent study from the National Renewable Energy Lab [NREL/TP-5000-61063] showed that increasing tower heights from 96m to 140m would nearly double the available wind resource in the US (adding 1,800 GW) and bring wind development to many areas where it is not currently feasible. However, traditional tower designs cannot cost-effectively scale up due to the size constraints associated with road and rail transportation. Even today towers are on the edge of what can be transported, even with specialty trucks, expensive escorts and significant structural sub-optimization. Keystone Tower Systems has developed an advanced manufacturing process that solves this problem by enabling on-site tower production. With Keystone & #39;s system, which adapts the well-understood process of spiral welding to tower construction, transport limits are eliminated and tall, low-cost towers are made possible.Keystone has proven the economics of the tower-spiral-welding system, and has built a scale prototype to demonstrate the fundamental spiral welding technology. However, fully understanding and optimizing the on-site manufacturing process is also necessary to ensure that the system fills the needs of cost-effective wind energy production. In this project, Keystone will work closely with wind industry logistics experts and wind developers on a mobile fabrication facility that can be deployed at the wind farm. The project focuses on key aspects of on-site operation, such as tower coating selection and deployment logistics. Once completed, the results will be used as a basis for a full on-site facility design. With on-site tower production, turbines will be able to reach the strong winds at high hub-heights, reducing the cost of energy and increasing the area available for economic wind deployment. In addition, on-site production is inherently local, bringing jobs to the communities where the wind farm is installed.