GE's three-story-tall printers can 3D print wind turbine tower sections up to 20 meters high
General Electric just opened a new 3D printing facility in Bergen, NY, that it hopes will research and develop new ways to 3D print the concrete foundations for wind turbines to reduce cost and speed up green energy adoption.
The facility will hopefully allow General Electric (GE) to develop the means to print the concrete supports at wind farms themselves to greatly reduce the costly transportation of prefabricated concrete bases, as well as provide new employment opportunities in the region.
The research facility is partially funded by a grant from the US Department of Energy, which will help support a team of at least 20 people who will refine the technology to bring it to market, with the first onsite printings expected in about five years.
"Innovation will continue to be a key driver in accelerating the energy transition," GE Renewable Energy Chief Technology Officer Danielle Merfeld said in a company statement announcing the opening. "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," Merfeld added.
Adopting new technologies and innovations will be a key factor in determining whether the United States is able to meet the Biden administration's climate targets of total carbon-free electricity generation by 2035, and a carbon-neutral economy in the US by 2050.
These are possibly the most daunting engineering challenges that humanity has ever really needed to grapple with, so every solution, big and small, long term and short term, are going to be needed to get the planet on a climate trajectory that can sustain the planet's biodiversity.
"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," said U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power Alejandro Moreno.
"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. With American-made taller towers assembled onsite, we can cut costs, overcome logistical hurdles, and accelerate progress toward our goals."