With the long-term trend of rising energy prices and concerns over the impact of polluting energy sources on global warming, wind power remains an attractive prospect.
It does not pollute the air or release harmful emissions into the atmosphere; and wind turbines provide energy without being source of health problems such as asthma. But beyond the idea of wind turbines there is the practical challenge of manufacturing them. This is where the versatility of fibreglass plays a key role
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The desire to harness wind power goes back centuries, with the use of windmills to grind grain and pump water. An early electricity-generating turbine was constructed in America in the 1930s. The 1970s Arab oil embargo made the concept of wind power more attractive, with the development of various prototypes. But it is really in recent times that wind turbines and wind farms have spread significantly.
One vital issue in their spread has been how to manufacture them effectively. For the nacelle – the housing for the driving components – and the blades, finding a durable but lightweight material has been crucial to their success.
The answer is fibreglass, or reinforced glass-fibre plastic (GRP) to be more exact. GRP is relatively lightweight but also very strong.
The nacelle must be robust enough to hold all the turbine machinery but it must also be able to rotate with the wind direction. Similarly, the blades need to be light to be well-supported, but able to function in rotation, harnessing wind power.
Over time, there have been various experiments with materials used for the turbine blades, but hollow-core fibreglass has proved consistently reliable.
We manufacture the nacelle and blades offsite.
Painstakingly exact fibreglass mould making goes into the manufacture of the nacelle and wind turbine blades. The mould comes in two halves, into which a resin is poured. Once dry, we take the fibreglass structures out of the mould and clean and sand them before sealing them together. We finish the constructed parts off by painting them.
Normally nacelle is fixed to the tower at its final location, and then the blades will be bolted on to the nacelle.
The mass manufacture of wind turbines is still, relatively, in its infancy. But the innovative application of fibreglass-based material has been central to its early spread, and will continue to play a huge part in the future of this form of renewable energy.
Fibreglass Solutions is a Stockport-based manufacturer of innovative and problem-solving fibreglass products. We serve a whole variety of business, commercial and industrial sectors. To find out more about our work, and how we could help you, contact us. We’re always happy to talk about projects and solutions.