The first ever commercialized wind turbine towers made with spiral welded technique are now operational. And with this Keystone Tower System and GE announce the operation of their 1st Spiral Turbine Tower, hoping it will revolutionize the industry.
GE Renewable Energy and Keystone Tower System announced a major milestone with the commercialization of the first spiral welded wind tower of 2.8 MW. This became possible after years of collaboration between the companies to design and produce spiral-welded towers for GE wind turbines. Tower was manufactured at a Keystone factory in Pampa, Texas, which was once a drilling equipment manufacturing unit for the oil & gas industry.
With the development of this Brownfield into a factory, the venture generated about 200 manufacturing jobs for nearby people. It is estimated that the factory at its full capacity will produce 1 GW of towers per year. For this innovative effort, the companies received $7 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) and a Component Certificate of 40-year lifetime from TÜV NORD.
Promoters of this wind turbine tower believe that it offers onsite modular assembly to revolutionize onshore wind deployment, without any costly transportation expenses. Launched at a critical time when there is a significant need for wind turbines driven by the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. Eric Smith, co-founder and CTO, Keystone, said, “This is the culmination of a dream we had to bring advanced manufacturing to the tower industry to help drive down the cost of wind energy and expand where wind is competitive into new regions.”
Eric further added, “I’m very proud of the years of hard work our team has invested in developing and scaling up tapered spiral welding.” Vic Abate, CEO of GE Renewable Energy, Onshore Wind said, “This collaboration with Keystone is an example of GE’s commitment to working with partners to bring new and innovative technology to the wind industry and advance domestic manufacturing.”
“We are delighted to be a part of this exciting opportunity for our workhorse products, with the goal of providing affordable, sustainable renewable energy to our customers and helping to deliver on the energy transition,” Vic Abate added.
The first tower for Q1 2023 is 89 meters tall for GE Energy 2.8-127 wind turbine that will be used interchangeably with the 89 meters tall conventional tower by GE. Coil steel is utilized in the manufacturing process which will enable a new segment of highly efficient domestic steel mills to supply the wind industry. With the Pampa factory in a fixed location, Keystone is developing other mobile factories capable of building taller towers directly at the wind site.
Keystone design and builds its own custom spiral welding manufacturing equipment and its tapered spiral welding process will be speedy accompanied by consistency and quality of automated manufacturing to wind tower manufacturing. GE Energy and Keystone have also collaborated on the 3 MW turbine platforms by GE Energy. And signed a multi-year supply agreement for spiral towers from Pampa factory by Keystone.
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Spiral welding technique borrowed from steel-pipeline industry. Through this technique, the steel making up the tower curls into a cylinder and basically these towers are made from meters wide steel plates. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), spiral welding technique is capable of producing towers twice in size and 10 times quicker in comparison to conventional towers. In their May 2022 publication, How Spiral Welding is Revolutionizing Wind Turbine Manufacturing U.S. The Department of Energy detailed the factory and its insights.
After Keystone Tower System and GE announce the Operation of their 1st Spiral Turbine Tower, Keystone is ramped up to produce spiral welded towers targeted for Q1 (1st quarter) of 2023 with additional deliveries.