As the wind industry has matured, turbines have grown larger and the cost of wind energy has been driven down. Further growth today, however, is not possible due to transport constraints for the tower. Today’s tower designers are forced to choose between:
- Short towers (less than 100m) that give up 30 to 50% more energy at higher heights
- Tall welded towers requiring thick walls and 100+ tons of excess steel to make for the limited diameter, or
- Assembling the tower out of 1,000+ tons of concrete blocks or hundreds of steel pieces with thousands of bolts that could take weeks of assembly
Keystone Tower Systems brings spiral welding to the wind industry through an innovation that enables production of tapered tubes with variable wall thickness.
The process uses the same welders and steel used in today’s tower manufacturing, but with 1/10th of the labor, enabling efficient on-site operation, and towers of any size. Keystone’s process requires no in-plane deformation of the steel, and its trapezoidal sheets can be cut without producing scrap.
Keystone Tower Systems is a rapidly growing small company developing a new manufacturing process for wind turbine towers. Keystone’s process eliminates transportation limits, enabling tall, low-cost towers that lift turbines into the faster, more consistent winds available at higher heights. This innovation will substantially reduce the cost of wind energy – potentially reaching grid parity in many locations – and encourage wind development in many new regions.
Keystone has adapted spiral welding, a proven in-field manufacturing process from the pipe industry, to the production of large diameter, wind-turbine towers. Spiral welding allows producing towers on-site, eliminating the need for transport and enabling low-cost towers of 140m hub-height and beyond.
Keystone recently completed a partial scale prototype of the manufacturing system, and will be installing the first demonstration tower with turbine later this year. We are currently working with some of the biggest turbine manufacturers and wind developers in the world to incorporate these towers into their plans, and are scaling up to implement a commercial system to produce towers 140m and taller.
Keystone currently has offices in Somerville, Massachusetts, and will be opening a location in the Denver, Colorado area in mid-2014 to support construction of the first commercial-scale tapered spiral welder.
Keystone Tower Systems
Filed Under: Construction, News, Towers