By Dan Davis
Wind energy isn’t going to just blow away. Fabricators from all over the world learned that at the 2017 Wind Energy
Seminar at the Cesena, Italy-based home of DAVI, a
manufacturer of plate rolling equipment (see
Figures 1 and
With all the recent talk in the U.S. about deriving more oil from shale exploration and attempts
to reinvigorate the coal industry, you may not have
noticed the news of the first domestic wind farm
coming online in 2016. The five massive wind towers sitting about 15 miles off the coast of Block Island, R.I., are expected to add ample power to the
state’s power grid, ultimately cutting homeowners’
electricity rates and decreasing the need for fossil
fuels to generate power.
As an example of the potential impact that the
country’s first offshore wind farm is making already,
consider that municipal officials in Block Island
closed the island’s traditional source of power, a
small, diesel-fueled power plant, in May during a
four-month test run of the wind turbines. They are
now attached to Rhode Island’s mainland power
grid thanks to a connection to the wind farm. The
Block Island Wind Farm is rated at 30 megawatts,
which should be more than enough to power every
Block Island home for the foreseeable future. With
the island’s power plant closed, residents will no
longer have to rely on the burning of 1 million gallons of diesel each year for power.
That’s a pretty impressive start for a country that,
frankly, lags behind the world when it comes to offshore wind energy production. The U.S. has seen its
share of onshore wind towers being built over the
past decade, but the real potential for power generation lies offshore, where the wind blows harder
and more consistently than inland winds. Some
experts believe that if the U.S. were to fully exploit
offshore wind energy, we could generate 4,000 gigawatts per year, which is more than four times the
current U.S. electricity-generating capacity.
According to industry observers, however, if U.S.
fabricators want to be a part of this expanding market, they are going to need bigger machines. These
offshore wind towers are an entirely different fabrication when compared to their onshore cousins.
More specifically, the offshore towers require a foundation anchoring system not used by onshore units.
Building Bigger Towers
Teemu Tolonen, an applications manager, wind
tower production, PEMA Welding Automation,
provided fabricators with an idea of just how large
these wind towers are getting. (PEMA was a sponsor of the seminar along with DAVI, HGG Group, and
of wind energy
The future of wind energy
will require fabricators to go big or go home
Fabricators from all over the world participated in the
2017 Wind Energy Seminar in Cesena, Italy, hosted by
Fabricators attended the seminar to learn about the latest technology developments aimed at making the fabrication of offshore wind turbine sections and foundations more efficient.