Analysis, Design & Performance

Full Session with Abstracts

335009-6 - Structural optimization of wind turbine towers

Saturday, April 21
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: 202A

Wind power along with solar is one of the most competitive and attractive forms of clean, renewable energy, both in the USA and in Europe. With the benefit of subsidies to make it cost-competitive with non-renewable energy sources, usage of wind power has grown dramatically in the USA over the past decade. Nevertheless, with changing political climates, neither subsidies of renewable sources, nor carbon taxes on non-renewable sources can be counted on to maintain the competitiveness of wind power. To increase its long term viability, the cost of wind power needs to be reduced.

The trend in wind turbine towers is to make them taller and taller, so that they can access higher wind speeds and user higher powered turbines. The first cost of a current generation 7.6 MW land-based turbine is approximately $14 million, of which the tower and its foundations comprise a fraction of 25 to 30 percent. Since they make up a significant fraction of the total cost, economies realized in the towers and foundations can have a significant impact on the viability of wind power.

Typical turbine towers these days are tapered, pre-stressed concrete shells. However, in the search for lighter, and cheaper alternatives, we use both continuum and discrete structural topology optimization techniques to explore open lattice 150 m tall steel tower concepts. Design concepts are found that minimize both the material cost of the structure and its complexity (related to fabrication cost) while satisfying both strength and dynamic compliance constraints.

Colby C. Swan

The University of Iowa

Dr. Swan has a long history both in SEI and in the field of structural optimization.


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335009-6 - Structural optimization of wind turbine towers

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