Growing demand for wind energy plant support structures

In 2008 the Global Wind Energy Council produced three forecasts of the growth in international wind energy production. The most conservative of these included only the extrapolated impact of clean energy policies that have already been approved for implementation. The forecast indicated that at least an additional 1.2 TW (terawatts) of additional capacity will be installed by 2030.

In Canada, wind energy capacity has doubled in the past four years to 3,500 MW, about 800 MW more than the WAC Bennett Dam, BC’s largest power generating facility. Although BC currently has only two wind farms (combined capacity of about 240 MW), the northeast region of the province has one of the world’s most extraordinary wind resources — strong, steady, near-unidirectional winds that stream across hundreds of kilometers of textbook-perfect wind farm sites atop the trailing foothills of the Rocky Mountains, giving the region an estimated economically accessible capacity in excess of 6 GW.

Given the significant growth in wind energy production that is forecast for the next 20 years, there will be a tremendous need for turbine towers. Approximately 40% of these are expected to be required in North America, many of which will be in BC, where several world-class projects are poised for development. Assuming an average capacity of 3 MW per turbine, based on the above forecast of 1.2 TW of new capacity by 2030, this translates into worldwide demand for 400,000 support towers.