Giant Swedish Wind Park Targets Turbines as Tall As Eiffel Tower

Source: By Lars Paulsson, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Markbygden ETT wind park project near Pitea, Sweden.
The Markbygden ETT wind park project near Pitea, Sweden. Photographer: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg

Svevind AB is working on an unprecedented permit to increase the approved height of wind turbines by a third to 300 meters (984 feet), or almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower. The application for part of the Markbygden wind park will probably be filed later this quarter and the process could take two to three years, said Kristina Falk, the company’s head of environment and permits.

The ambition highlights the speed at which even the most mature renewable energy technology is still developing after decades of ever-bigger turbines. Expanding onshore wind is central to nations and utilities around the world to meet stricter climate targets in the decades ahead.

“If you go higher up, you can have a bigger rotor and that means more energy from the turbines,” Falk said. “At that height it’s a substantial increase of the wind energy compared with what we have permission for now.”

Markbygden, whose 1,101 turbines will be spinning later this decade, will generate enough power to meet 8% of Sweden’s electricity demand. Lawmakers want wind to help the country meet a significant growth in demand for power as industry and transportation sectors get increasingly electrified to meet climate targets.

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Sweden needs to start planning for how to build enough new power generation to meet a 70% increase in demand by 2045, Markus Rauramo, chief executive officer at Fortum Oyj, said in an interview with Dagens Industri.

As of now there aren’t any turbines as tall the famous Parisian landmark and there won’t be for several years, but Svevind wants to have the option and it’s likely the industry will continue to develop and bring out bigger machines.

The biggest onshore turbine today is the 5.8-170 model from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA that is 250 meters tall at its highest point.

“A permit allowing for turbines up to 300 meters means Svevind could install the very latest and most powerful turbine models on the project,” said Oliver Metcalfe, an onshore wind analyst at BloombergNEF in London. “The tallest onshore turbines on the market today stand at around 250 meters. If granted, the new permit would give Svevind a buffer in case manufacturers release newer, larger models.”

Swedish Wind Growth

Annual generation

Swedish Wind Energy Association

Output from Swedish wind parks jumped 40% last year to 27.9 terawatt-hours, according to data from lobby group Swedenergy.

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— With assistance by Jesper Starn, and Will Mathis