According to a news release, Keystone Tower Systems and GE Renewable Energy recently showcased the first spiral-welded tower in the world on a 2.8 MW GE turbine, signaling a crucial turning point in the advancement of tapered spiral welding. In addition, the installation is the result of a multi-year collaboration between Keystone and GE to create spiral-welded tower designs and manufacturing techniques for GE wind turbines.
Furthermore, the tower was built near Pampa, Texas, the location of Keystone’s factory. The brownfield factory was built in an abandoned site where drilling equipment for the oil and gas industry was once produced, and it will eventually bring back some 200 manufacturing jobs to the area.
While running at full capacity, the plant will be able to generate about 1GW of towers every year. This local manufacturing capacity development comes at a critical time as demand for wind turbine parts has grown dramatically since the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage. In addition, Keystone’s tapered spiral welding technique imparts automated manufacturing’s effectiveness, dependability, and speed to the manufacture of wind towers.
Additionally, a new group of incredibly productive regional steel mills will be able to supply the wind industry since coil steel will be used in the manufacturing process.
The factory is at a fixed location, but Keystone is also developing mobile factories that can build larger towers directly at the wind site, as outlined in the US Department of Energy article “How Spiral Welding is Revolutionizing Wind Turbine Production” from May 2022.
On another note, the spiral tower’s parts have received 40-year certification by TÜV NOR, a certification organization with its headquarters in Hanover, Germany. Moreover, a multi-year supply agreement for spiral towers produced at Keystone’s Pampa factory was also signed. In addition, Keystone and GE collaborated to create a tower for GE’s 3MW turbine platform.
In a statement, Eric Smith, co-founder and CTO of Keystone, said, “This is the culmination of a dream we had to bring advanced manufacturing to the tower industry to help drive down the cost of wind energy and expand where the wind is competitive into new regions.”
And according to Vic Abate, CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind division, “This collaboration with Keystone is an example of GE’s commitment to working with partners to bring new and innovative technology to the wind industry and advance domestic manufacturing.”