Stora Enso enters partnership to develop wooden wind turbine blades

Stora Enso supplies mass timber elements like LVL (Image: Tiina Nykänen/Stora Enso)

Stora Enso and Voodin Blade Technology have signed a partnership agreement to develop sustainable wind turbine blades from wood.

Under the agreement, the two companies are committed to developing sustainable alternatives for wind turbine blades and creating a competitive and reliable supply chain. They are currently producing and installing a 20m blade for a 0.5MW turbine and have plans for an 80m blade.

Voodin Blades is a German-based start-up company developing sustainable rotor blades for wind turbines. The partnership supports Stora Enso’s offering of solutions to replace less environmental-friendly materials with renewable ones made from wood.

“With the current energy crisis and ambitious decarbonisation goals, wind energy has never been more in demand. Through this partnership with Voodin Blades we further accelerate our ability to develop a sustainable and competitive supply chain for the growing market of wind turbine blades,” said Lars Völkel, executive vice-president, wood products division, Stora Enso.

Wind power blades are typically produced with fibreglass and carbon fibre, energy-intensive non-renewable plastics made from petrochemicals that cannot be easily recycled.

As a result, tens of thousands of ageing blades end up in landfills. By developing blades with sustainable wood, Stora Enso and Voodin Blades can make the blades lighter and reduce the overall dependency on fossil fuel extraction.

“The wind industry as a key driver towards carbon neutrality needs to become 100% sustainable and environmentally friendly. With the installation of the 20m blade, we are opening a path towards a more sustainable future. In time we will start to develop and manufacture blades for future multi-megawatt turbines,” said Joachim Knapp, mechanical engineer and automation specialist with Voodin Blades.

Stora Enso is reportedly providing 100% sustainable wood for the new blades. The first 20m blade will be developed using Stora Enso’s laminated veneer lumber (LVL), a mass timber product that has a high load-bearing capacity that easily supports large-scale rotary blades.

Unlike steel and concrete, LVL is relatively lightweight to transport on-site without heavy-duty equipment. Furthermore, LVL is a renewable material with a minimal carbon footprint. The 20m blade will be installed on a 0.5MW turbine near Warburg, Germany by the end of 2022.