Comeback for concrete -- New towers

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Concrete towers were used for a number of large wind turbines in Sweden, Denmark and the UK some 20 years ago, but their use declined until recently. The signs of a comeback are for several reasons.

First, increases in the price of steel mean the competitive position of concrete has improved. Second, its use for tall towers -- 80 metres and above -- simplifies the dynamics of the complete wind turbine assembly; concrete towers are generally more rigid than steel towers. Other reasons are the prospect of weight reductions through the use of carbon fibre reinforced polymers and a lower energy content, according to the Concrete Centre in the UK.

German wind turbine maker Enercon is one of the manufacturers to use concrete towers for its very large machines. It recently inaugurated a new production plant in Emden, Germany, devoted to producing towers for its E-70, E-82 and E-112 models. Concrete is not, however, being used exclusively for these machines, enabling Enercon to derive comparative performance and cost data on the two types of tower.

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