The most used metal in a wind turbine is steel in the tower and other components. But a few more recent material ideas warrant attention.
Until recently, copper has been the predominant material in wire and cable used to grounding of electrical systems. But the cost of copper fluctuates substantially. This is bad news for windfarm developers, and electrical and construction contractors who are under increasing pressure to control costs.
For instance, there are several solutions to the climbing cost of all copper. One for wire is in copper-clad steel. It is said to be reliable, cost effective, and can provide the wind industry with a smarter alternative to copper-based grounding systems. With respect to electrical conductors, aluminum in wires is also substituting for copper as its cost climbs.
The financial crisis has altered the trajectory of wind-farm projects by tightening developers’ budgets with a need to control costs, an increasing priority even as the industry expands.
Given the cost sensitivity of any wind project, the idea of burying a precious metal (copper) underground makes little economic sense when less expensive, alternatives are readily available. Copper-clad steel has been around for decades and is a practical option to consider in grounding applications. It offers an alternative to copper by combining the strength of steel with the conductivity of copper through a cladding that delivers comparable performance.
Filed Under: Components