Skip to main content

Modular steel towers can speed up path to net zero

Published by , Editor
Energy Global,

In 2015, ministers from 196 countries met in the Le Bourget suburb of Paris for COP21. After a fortnight of deliberations, mankind collectively agreed on a clear ambition. The world agreed to work to keep “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” To achieve this, the UN suggests the world needs to reach net zero by 2050.

Modular steel towers can speed up path to net zero

In 2021 world leaders met again at COP26 in Glasgow to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Across the world there have been some signs of real progress on tackling climate change – particularly in the power sector. In March 2024, International Renewable Energy Agency analysis showed 2023 set a new record in renewables deployment in the power sector by reaching a total capacity of 3870 GW globally. Renewable energy accounted for some 86% of the total capacity increase in the power sector.

Global wind power has grown particularly quickly this century. Onshore wind capacity grew by some 293% from 178 GW in 2010 to 699 GW in 2020.

But if the ambitions of Paris are to be fully-realised there is still an awful lot more to do. The Global Wind Energy Council suggests wind energy must triple its yearly growth from 117 GW in 2023 to at least 320 GW to steer mankind back to the 1.5°C target.

Vast swathes of the developing world in particular have gargantuan untapped resources of wind potential. Today, Africa is only using 0.01% of the 59 000 GW available on the continent. In Asia, countries are working out ways to achieve rapid growth in wind energy capacity. For example, the Philippines has a target of 5 GW by 2030, while Vietnam is aiming for 28 GW by the end of the decade.

A real barrier to the growth of onshore wind is the sheer logistical nightmare associated with constructing turbines in remote areas often at altitude. The wind energy market has come up with a variety of solutions, but all of these have serious cost implications. Often purpose-built roads are constructed, and buildings have been demolished to manoeuvre segments of tubular towers via road networks. In other designs for ‘hybrid towers’ temporary concrete plants have to be built on site.

But there has to be a better way than this.

The deployment of modular steel towers can radically increase the growth of onshore wind capture across the world. Conceptually innovative designs pioneered by Tensions Control Bolts Ltd in conjunction with the world’s leading tower manufacturers involve the pre-fabrication of a series of steel plates which are transported to site.

A standard flat-bed trailer can be used to transport tower sections in this modular design. The towers are rapidly assembled on site with preloaded Greenkote® Tension Control Bolt assemblies connecting the steel plates.

Modular towers are light and reduce transport movements by some 90% in comparison to concrete tower solutions, radically reducing transportation costs. Another advantage is the ability to build ever higher towers including those up to 166 m high. State subsidies are being reduced and eliminated in the wind energy market. Wind turbine tower manufacturers are continuously required to reduce the cost price per kWh of wind energy. To meet this challenge taller bolted shell towers are erected which significantly increases the energy yield of a wind turbine generator on sites with a high wind shear.

This design has proved successful globally with hundreds of modular turbines located across the globe, initially in Holland, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and Finland and now in Canada, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

The cost-effectiveness and ease of transportation of these Modular designs means they represent viable options to accelerate the growth of onshore wind across the world – from Wrexham to Jakarta and beyond.

If mankind is to fulfil the potential of net zero it must embrace the radical innovations that are making renewable energy more cost effective and logistically easier. Modular wind turbines represent a vital part of the renewable future we are collectively working towards.


Written by Tim Stokes, Managing Director of Tension Control Bolts. TCB has now supplied over 9 million bolts for wind turbines across the globe, making an important contribution to a greener future.


For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Spring 2024 issue

The Spring 2024 issue of Energy Global starts with a guest comment from Field on how battery storage sites can serve as a viable solution to curtailed energy, before moving on to a regional report from Théodore Reed-Martin, Editorial Assistant, Energy Global, looking at the state of renewables in Europe. This issue also hosts an array of technical articles on electrical infrastructure, turbine and blade monitoring, battery storage technology, coatings, and more.

Read the article online at:

You might also like


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):