The wind energy sector is also becoming increasingly important for the voestalpine Group. The future of electricity generation through wind energy lies in lattice towers, as the presentation of the world's first maintenance-free lattice tower demonstrates.
The energy and mobility sector already accounts for 60% of Group revenue and the alternative power generation sector will become increasingly important. For this reason voestalpine, working together with several partners, has focused on developing a maintenance-free lattice tower. This project has been successful and the lattice tower has already been met with rising levels of interest at the annual wind energy event, EWEA 2013.
Wind energy can be captured using several types of structures: lattice, steel tube, concrete or hybrid forms of tower construction. However, most wind parks are currently composed of conical or concrete tube towers, because lattice towers have traditionally required huge amounts of maintenance. Consequently, voestalpine has focused on reducing maintenance requirements, and with success. The newly developed lattice tower is completely hot-dip galvanized and so protected from corrosion. The connectors require no maintenance for 20 years because re-tightening or inspection of the pre-tightening force is no longer necessary.
In principle, lattice towers come into their own at heights of 100m and upwards. They can achieve a significantly higher level of efficiency at this height and above than conventional towers. Additionally, at heights of over 110m lattice towers are also more cost efficient than hybrid, steel tube or concrete towers. Lattice towers can also be built to greater heights than their counterparts. Compared to other types of construction, the advantage of lattice towers lies in their meshwork of bars which themselves lend the tower strength and stability, and help them blend more easily into the landscape. The large areas of open space between the bars also serve to hugely reduce the towers’ wind resistance. With their reduced weight, taller lattice towers do not require larger foundations. As a result no heavy transport is required to deliver the towers, allowing the components to be assembled directly on site instead.