GE Renewable Energy inaugurates 3D Printing Facility that will research on 3D Printing of Concrete Bases of wind turbine towers

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GE’s 3D printing facility for research on 3D printing of concrete bases
Above: GE’s 3D printing facility for research on 3D printing of concrete bases/Image Source: GE Renewable Energy

GE Renewable Energy, provider of end-to-end solutions for our customers demanding reliable and affordable green power, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new research and development 3D printing facility that will conduct research on 3D printing of concrete bases of wind turbine towers.

A project on 3D printing of concrete bases for wind turbine towers was carried out in mid-2020 when GE Renewable Energy collaborated with COBOD and LafargeHolcim.

3D Printing Facility for Research on 3D printing of Concrete Bases

Printhead and nozzle of the COBOD concrete 3D printer
Above: Printhead and nozzle of the COBOD concrete 3D printer/Image Source: GE Renewable Energy

The Bergen facility’s research is being funded in part by a grant from the US Department of Energy. A 20-person team will continue to work on optimising 3D printing technology, with first applications in the field expected within the next five years.

This research will allow GE to 3D print the bottom portion of wind turbine towers on-site at wind farms, reducing transportation costs and creating additional job opportunities at wind farms where the technology will be used.

The research being conducted at the Bergen, New York facility will allow GE to better serve the growing wind power market in the United States. According to the American Clean Power Association (ACPA), there are over 68,000 wind turbines generating clean, reliable power across the country. Wind power capacity totals 135 GW, making it the country’s fourth-largest source of electricity. For the fourth year in a row, ACPA named GE Renewable Energy the leading manufacturer of wind turbines in the United States in 2021.

Comments on the Research from Project Partners

A number of GE Renewable Energy’s key local partners, as well as Enel Green Power, a customer interested in potential applications of the technology, attended the event and provided feedback on how the technology can add value to the local community and the renewable energy industry.

GE Renewable Energy Chief Technology Officer Danielle Merfeld, who spoke at the event, said, “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. We appreciate the support of the US 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 the Biden administration’s ambitious 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,” said U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno. “With American-made taller towers assembled on site we can cut costs, overcome logistical hurdles, and accelerate progress toward our goals.”

Luca Seletto, Director of Innovation, ENEL Green Power, said, “To rise to the challenge posed by the climate crisis, the renewable energy industry must prioritize innovation and sustainability as it scales. We are glad to keep working with GE in the development and evaluation of new technologies, like the 3D printing of wind foundations, and we thank the Department of Energy for funding this important work.”

Bill Pollock, PE, Director of Rochester Operations at Optimation, an organization providing many of the employees working at the GE research center, said, “At Optimation we have a focus on made in America and we also believe strongly in renewable energy. Working with GE on this project gives us an opportunity to pursue both of those goals. We are happy to be able to contribute to development of a new technology, to help reduce the cost of wind power and at the same time provide technically challenging jobs in western New York.”

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, Founder & General Manager, COBOD, said, “We are extremely proud to have delivered a completely new type of 3D concrete printer — the largest of its kind in the world — for this world class and state of the art facility. The printer we have delivered is second to none: not only can it print in excess of 10 tons of real concrete per hour, but in addition, it is the first 3D concrete printer in the world with two X-axes on the printer. With the multiple functions of the printer, the printer can better be described as a multifunctional construction robot than a printer.”

According to Rochelle Stein, Chair, Genesee County Legislature, “The announcement by GE Renewable Energy of its new R&D facility in Bergen is the latest example of the significant and continuing diversification of the Genesee County economy. While the agricultural, tourism and small business sectors are the mainstays of our local economy, GE Renewable Energy’s project shows why Genesee County is experiencing new capital investment and the creation of jobs in advanced manufacturing and how the renewable energy sectors which means new career opportunities for our residents.”

Edelio Bermejo, Head of Global R&D, Innovation and IP at HOLCIM, said, “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. We are particularly proud to be part of this ambitious project with GE and Cobod where we can propose the right mixture of ink to build more efficient wind turbines, directly on site. We are convinced this innovation will grow very quickly in the upcoming years and help us all significantly in our net zero journey.”

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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