Holcim informs GE-led, DOE-backed wind turbine base investigation

Holcim Head of Global R&D, Innovation and Intellectual Property Edelio Bermejo
DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno

Paris-based GE Renewable Energy staged a mid-April inauguration for a Bergen, N.Y. research and development facility equipped to fabricate up to 20-meter high wind turbine base structures with outsized 3D concrete printers. The facility positions a 20-member team to optimize such concrete practice, potentially leading to fabrication of turbine pedestals’ bottom portions on-site and lower material and equipment transportation costs for wind farm developers. Work at the Bergen facility is supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant and continues a partnership GE Renewable Energy entered in 2020 with Cobod International A/S, Denmark-based 3D printing technology developer, and Holcim Group, bringing printer ink or mortar mix design expertise. 

“Innovation will continue to be a key driver in accelerating the energy transition. It is particularly important to continuously improve the ways we design, manufacture, transport, and construct the large components of modern wind farms,” said GE Renewable Energy Chief Technology Officer Danielle Merfeld, addressing participants at a Bergen ribbon cutting ceremony. “We appreciate the support of the Department of Energy for the research we are doing here and are confident it will help make the wind farms of tomorrow even more efficient, economical, and environmentally responsible.”

“Reaching goals of carbon free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050 will require vastly more wind energy capacity. We’re proud to partner with GE Renewable Energy on this innovative 3D printing technology, which has the potential to be a game changer in how we harness this resource,” added DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno. “With taller towers assembled on site we can cut costs, overcome logistical hurdles, and accelerate progress toward our goals.”

“The printer we have delivered is second to none … the largest of its kind in the world,” affirmed Cobod General Manager Henrik Lund-Nielsen. “Not only can it print in excess of 10 tons per hour, but is the first 3D concrete printer in the world with two X axes—better described as a multifunctional construction robot than a printer.”

Cobod International tailored the mega 3D printer to meet GE Renewable Energy’s research parameters for on-site, wind turbine base construction potential. The package includes the world’s fi rst mortar or concrete ink nozzle equal to printing two X axes.

“Holcim has a key role to play in accelerating the transition towards clean, renewable energy. We have been studying 3D printing in concrete for nearly a decade and the potential of this technology just keeps expanding. Projects that would have been impossible yesterday are now a reality,” noted Holcim Head of Global R&D, Innovation and Intellectual Property Edelio Bermejo. “We are particularly proud to be part of this ambitious project with GE and Cobod where we can propose the right mixture to build more efficient wind turbines.”