Sunday, July 13, 2008

Firm foundations

Following is an elegant example of a biomimicry/design science application. Wind turbine foundations are becoming increasingly expensive with the rising costs of materials such as steel and concrete. Designing as much weight and materials out of the system while preserving even optimizing performance is a key to making wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas. (GW)

Tree Root a Part of Wind Farm's Foundation

New Zealand Evening Standard
July 7, 2008

Foundations similar to a tree root are being used for wind turbines near Palmerston North - a first in New Zealand. Work has started on erecting 28 turbine towers at the Te Rere Hau wind farm owned by a consortium including New Zealand Windfarms.

"The foundations are smaller and smarter and reduce earthworks by about 60 percent," said NZ Windfarms chief executive Chris Freear.

They require 40 percent less concrete than traditional gravity pad designs, he said.

Mr Freear said each turbine tower would have a single pile driven into rock. The pile would be 2.5m wide and between 7m and 10m long.

Christchurch-based Windflow Technology's two-bladed turbines will start arriving at Te Rere Hau later this month.

There will be 97 turbines at the site on North Range Road, east of Palmerston North, when the project is complete. Five of them were installed in 2006.

NZ Windfarms hopes to have 12 turbines connected to the national grid by the end of August - producing 6 megawatts of electricity. Cabling is being laid to connect the farm with the national grid.

Te Rere Hau is a 50-50 joint venture between NZ Windfarms and Australian interests NP Power and Babcock and Brown.

Wind energy provided 2.2 percent of total electricity generation last year, according to the Economic Development Ministry.

That grew to 2.6 percent in the first quarter of this year. Wind capacity almost doubled last year to 321.7MW.

(c) 2008 Evening Standard; Palmerston North, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.


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