Among the projects being funded by the German Agency for Disruptive Innovation (SPRIND) is an effort by Horst Bendix to develop a high-altitude, on-shore wind turbine. The higher a wind turbine is installed, the more efficiently it will work, because the wind is much steadier and blows with greater force at altitude.
However, conventional wind turbines are subject to high dynamic loads as a result of the massive weight of the nacelle at hub height. There is practically no way to build them taller, as they would be too unstable and economically too costly.
Bendix, who was in charge of technology and research at heavy-equipment manufacturer Kirow, has designed a version of a high-altitude wind turbine for low-wind, onshore use with a hub height clearly higher than everything else built to date.
Bendix’ innovation include:
The generator is no longer located in the nacelle, which means the new and much taller tower is no heavier than the current ones.
The tower’s mass no longer increases disproportionately to its height.
The tower is built using standard steel pipes that are readily available and transportable.
All of this results in a reduction of tower weight by 50%, and a reduction of total investment costs by 40%. Trimming manufacturing costs drastically cuts the costs per megawatt hour of power generated.
SPRIND GmbH was founded in Leipzig in December 2019. The agency is a flexible and fast state funding instrument with which the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) want to support and accelerate the identification and development of innovative ideas.
For the start-up phase 2019-2022, funds of at least €151 million were budgeted. The agency is initially planned as an experimental effort for a period of ten years. For this ten-year term (from 2019), a total budget of €1 billion is expected.