Swedish company Modvion is installing the world’s largest wind turbine from Laminated Veneer Limber (LVL).
The move has sparked a new green industry – with Nordic raw materials and Swedish technology combining to create climate-neutral wind power for a booming global energy market.
The 105-metre superstructure will be constructed in Skara in Sweden and is the latest move by the Modvion, which is disrupting the wind power market with new wooden wind turbine towers, cutting emissions by up to 90% compared to steel alternatives.
According to Modvion CEO Otto Lundman, wood “enables building higher towers at a lower cost,” which “makes wind power more efficient since winds are stronger and more stable higher up.”
The company’s first commercial installation will be for Swedish energy company Varberg Energi.
Wood Central understands that a two-megawatt turbine will be mounted on the tower produced by the leading Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. Including the blades, the total height of the wind turbine will be 150 metres.
In April 2023, Modvion partnered with Metsä Wood to supply LVL turbines.
Funded by the EU through the EIC Fund, the towers harness powerful winds, offer cost-effective energy production, and act as carbon sinks, reducing total turbine emissions by up to 30%.
After 25 years, the fully circular turbines can be disassembled and reused after decommissioning.
Based in Espoo, Finland, Metsä Wood (formerly “Finnforest”) is part of the Metsä Group, which covers the whole wood value chain.
The company is among the driving forces of Finland’s post-Russian recovery, with Metsä Group looking to new and innovative markets to supply Europe’s surging demand for renewable energies.
Wood Central understands that the turbines will be constructed from PEFC-certified birch and spruce local to Finland.
Global demand for wind turbines is booming amid decarbonisation drive.
As revealed in July, wind turbines are being embraced globally as a renewable energy source to meet climate commitments.
Denmark, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, and Italy are the leading European markets for the product; however, wind energy global governments are now embracing wind energy to meet climate commitments.
According to Pär Hallgren, Modvion’s Head of Procurement, the relationship with Metsä Wood could pave the way for Modvion to become one of the largest LVL buyers in the European market.
“Metsä Wood is an important partner in our journey to become a leading supplier of the next generation of sustainable wind turbine towers, which will also make us potentially one of the largest buyers of LVL,” Mr Hallgren said.
LVL is essential with the strength-to-weight ratio, resulting in lighter towers with less need for expensive reinforcements. Previously, Modvion entered into a similar partnership with Stora Enso.
Metsä Wood will supply the Kerto® LVL, which has a substantial strength-to-weight ratio, resulting in lighter towers with less need for expensive reinforcements.
The Kerto® LVL’s high material efficiency makes it highly versatile and ideal for sustainable construction.
Alongside the technical benefits of LVL, it also reduces carbon emissions.
According to a lifecycle analysis conducted by the Swedish research institute RISE, a wooden wind turbine tower radically reduces emissions compared to a steel tower of the same height and load.
“Kerto LVL enables high material efficiency, thus making it ideal for sustainable construction,” says Henrik Söderström, Sales and Marketing at Metsä Wood.
“Alongside the technical benefits of LVL, it also enables radical reductions in emissions.”
The volume of wood needed for a Modvion tower is between 300 – 1200 m³ depending on the height and load.
“That means an LVL carbon storage capacity between 240 – 950 tonnes CO2eq per tower,” Mr Söderström said.
While the tower is the component that usually emits the most carbon, Modvion’s timber tower is carbon-negative, storing more CO2 in the wood than is emitted during production.
To ensure carbon storage even further and add to the circularity of the project, Modvion plans to reuse the wood after the wind turbine tower is decommissioned.
“Building renewable energy with renewable materials can enable net-zero energy production from wind,” said Pär Hallgren, Head of Procurement at Modvion.
According to a report by Herald Scotland, a typical 110-metre steel wind turbine tower emits approximately 1,250 tonnes of CO2.
In contrast, a wooden building only releases about 125 tonnes of CO2 and has the added benefit of storing carbon.
These wooden towers are constructed using adhesive instead of bolts, which reduces the necessity for frequent inspections.
Renewable Energy Systems has signed a letter of intent for 200 LVL turbines.
Earlier this year, UK energy firm Renewable Energy Systems (RES) signed a letter of intent to use around 20 towers per year from 2026 to 2036.
RES has developed or constructed 21 wind farms in Scotland with a total capacity of 597 MW.
At the time of the announcement, it was reported that wooden towers could help address challenges in steel manufacturing while meeting the growing demand for wind turbines.
With its abundant Sitka spruce, Scotland is well-positioned to supply raw materials to turbine manufacturing. These wooden towers are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and are coated with weather protection to prevent water damage.
“We currently use Scandinavian spruce, but any soft wood works, including Sitka spruce. Scotland is very much possible for supplying raw material for wooden towers,” according to a Modvion spokesperson.
As more LVL turbines are constructed, confidence in the technology is expected to grow.
Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis, Head of the Centre for Wood Science and Technology at Edinburgh Napier University, explained that while LVL has been utilised for 30 years, it is relatively new for large-scale construction.
As more wooden turbines are built, trust in the technology should increase.
“This is not an entirely new concept – people have built wind turbines and components from wood before,” Dr Ridley-Ellis said.
“This specific type of engineered wood, LVL, is somewhat like plywood, but instead of the layers being 90˚ to each other, different layers all go in the same direction.”
However, engineers need some clarification regarding the effectiveness of LVL in the construction of wind turbines, he added.
“We don’t have extensive experience building wind turbines, regardless of the material used. There is a lot of general uncertainty because they are a relatively new structure.”
“The more that are built and people witness them functioning, the more they will trust the technology.”
“You wouldn’t want to construct numerous turbines in remote areas only to discover that you need to carry out unexpected maintenance regularly.”