High Performance, Ultra-Tall, Low Cost Concrete Wind Turbine Towers Additively Manufactured On-Site

Example of how an envisioned low cost ultra-tall wind turbine towers may be built on-site

Developing a reinforced concrete additive manufacturing technology for onsite building of low cost ultra-tall wind turbine towers

Project Overview

Recipient: RCAM Technologies

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $1,249,982

Co-funded Amount: $62,558

Agreement Number: EPC-17-023

Project Term: 12/26/2017 - 6/30/2021

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Irvine, CA

Site Location(s):  Irvine, CA

The Issue

Large wind turbines benefit from economies of scale from larger components such as taller towers, but are constrained by the logistics and transportation size and weight. As a result, the average conventional wind turbine tower height installed in the U.S. is slightly over 80 meters tall even though an ultra-tall 140 meter tower increases the amount of energy produced by more than 21% at a site with moderate wind shear. These alternative steel and concrete tall tower configurations have not been fully explored in California due to prohibitively high manufacturing and assembly costs.

Project Innovation

This project aims to develop and test a reinforced concrete additive manufacturing (RCAM) technology for building low cost ultra-tall wind turbine towers onsite at a wind plant. Taller wind turbine towers capture more wind energy from faster winds aloft, but are constrained by transportation size and weight. The key goal is to develop a RCAM technology that can be used to fabricate a hybrid wind turbine tower on-site in one day at half of the cost of conventional steel towers, and reduce the levelized cost of wind generated electricity in a low wind speed site by 11%.

Project Benefits

Substantial recent investments and advancements in concrete additive manufacturing technologies for buildings make this an opportune time to use the RCAM technology for constructing tall wind turbine towers in California. Concrete additive manufacturing technologies are being developed by countries around the world; however, most development has been performed on concrete printing manufacturing methods for buildings that have little or no structural reinforcement necessary for highly loaded wind turbine towers. The project team will build upon the state-of-the art technology to develop the innovative RCAM method that incorporates reinforcement in concrete printing for ultra-tall turbine towers.

Lower Costs: RCAM technology provides new transformative design possibilities that reduce cost and energy consumed by using less concrete and labor than conventional wind tower construction, and by eliminating concrete forms. The RCAM offers the potential of reducing the construction time by 66% and additional cost reduction potential using automation. This technology has the potential to reduce the levelized cost of wind generated electricity in a low wind speed site by 11%.

Greater Reliability: An ultra-tall wind turbine with a hub height between 140-170 meters increases the amount of energy produced by more than 21%, compared to an 80-meter tower. For instance, 140-meter RCAM towers increase California area with gross capacity factors above 35% by tenfold, adding flexibility and reliability of the electrical system by increasing geographic diversity. Ultra-tall towers can be used with larger rotors to obtain further increases in capacity factor.

Economic Development: If the RCAM technology is successfully commercialized, a large number of jobs in wind turbine construction, operations, and maintenance will be created in the deployment of new and repowered turbines on ultra-tall towers. These deployments will also provide lease and tax revenues in local California communities. Empirical impacts in counties hosting wind power projects that were installed between 2000 and 2008 were found to increase county-level personal income of $11,000/MW of installed capacity, and increase average county-level employment by approximately 0.5 jobs/MW.

Environmental Benefits: Wind deployments avoid substantial emissions of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuel generated electricity. Wind generated electricity emits up to 120 times less carbon dioxide (CO2e) than natural gas generated electricity and nearly 200 times less than coal on a lifecycle basis (5 g/kwh, 607 g/kWh, and 975 g/kWh respectively). An RCAM 140-m tower is projected to result in 85 times less CO2 compared to natural gas and 138 times less than coal fired generation on a lifecycle basis.




Project Overview

Recipient: RCAM Technologies

Program: EPIC

Award Amount: $1,249,982

Co-funded Amount: $62,558

Agreement Number: EPC-17-023

Project Term: 12/26/2017 - 6/30/2021

Project Status: Active

Recipient Location:  Irvine, CA

Site Location(s):  Irvine, CA

Project Team

CEC Project Manager: Silvia Palma-Rojas

Recipient Contact: Jason Cotrell

Match Partner(s): Jason Cotrell, dba RCAM Technologies

Subcontractor(s): The Regents of the University of California, Irvine; Philip J Barutha


 

 

For questions or additional information, please email RandDProjectinfo@energy.ca.gov

  • Commercial Businesses
  • Empower California
  • Energy Providers
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Governments
  • Home and Communities
  • Industrial Facilities
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Water

  • Combined Heat and Power
  • Demand Response
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Environment and Climate Change Research
  • Market Acceleration
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Renewable Energy
  • Smart Grid
  • Storage
  • Transportation

  • Bay Area
  • Central Coast
  • North State
  • Sacramento Valley
  • San Joaquin Valley
  • South Coast Region
  • Southeast Interior

  • Electric Program Investment Charge