In 1975, a group of teachers and volunteers got together to build a wind turbine. 45 years later, it still works

It was 1975, in the midst of the oil crisis, when a group of teachers from schools in Tvind, in Denmark, began to discuss the idea of ​​building a wind turbine. And not just any wind turbine, but one that would become in the most powerful in the world at that time and that anticipated many of the technologies used in industry today.

As they count on the project website, now converted into a museum and demonstration center, the objective of this group of volunteers was not to profit, but “show that generating energy in another way was possible”. It was a time when oil was in question and nuclear energy was positioned as the great alternative to fossil fuels.

It was a time with a major anti-nuclear movement and this group of volunteers wanted to use the wind turbine as an argument in the energy debate, while generating energy without emissions and controlling their own spending, they say.

At some point in the beginning of the project there were doubts between wind or solar energy, but the decision was simple: the wind turbine it is located in the west of the Jutland Peninsula, where there is an excellent wind resource. So they got to work.

Tvindkraft foundation

A construction process not without problems

It was on May 29, 1975 when the construction of the wind turbine began, the day on which 400 volunteers they met to make the first performances on the ground. The average age was 21 and although they had the help of experts for certain things, it was a group that podemos seats semi-amateur.

The construction of the wind turbine lasted for 3 years and during the process doubts and problems of all kinds arose, something normal in a pioneering construction and directed by a non-professional team. Some of the issues were to be solved thanks to the help of external experts, but it was not always possible since the budget was very tight, so they relied on the ingenuity of the volunteers or it was a matter of adding more people to the cause to fix them.

Tvindkraft construction

One of the most critical points was when it was discovered that due to a calculation error twice as much concrete as initially considered was required. Due to the tight budget, that meant there was not enough money to buy it from a nearby plant. The solution was to do the mixing themselves, which although it would take twice as long, would cost half.

Concreting foundation Tvind

Before the completion of construction, many of these volunteers were ridiculed and even accused of “destroying the cause of wind energy.” After all, if that project failed, it could become a milestone in the development of wind power.

Finally, On March 26, 1978, the wind turbine started up, although until 1980 adjustments and improvements were made.

The total budget was 6.5 million Danish crowns (almost 900,000 euros at the time) and was financed by the teachers of the schools in Tvind. Currently, the price per megawatt of a modern wind turbine is between 600,000 and 800,000 euros.

Blade manufacturing

A wind turbine ahead of its time

Once built, the Tvindkraft became the first multi-megawatt wind turbine in history, the first to overcome the barrier of 2 megawatts of power. However, although the nominal power of the electric generator was 2 megawatts, it never generated such a figure.

The reason was that, with the blades (27 meters long) and the control system equipped, the rotor had to rotate too fast to reach 2 megawatts, which put the integrity of the wind turbine itself at risk. Therefore, the wind turbine was limited to 1 megawatt of power. As if that were not enough, during the first years of operation, the area’s network was only capable of supporting 400 kilowatts of injected power, so it was decided to divert the remaining production to a domestic hot water boiler.

Blade transport

The Tvindkraf (that’s how it’s known), pioneered a multitude of technologies that are used today in modern wind turbines, such as the tubular concrete tower (previously the lattice type were used more), three blades (many of the previous prototypes were based on two-bladed technology) built with fiberglass and blades with pitch angle control (adjustable to regulate the power drawn from the wind).

He pioneered a multitude of technologies that are used today in modern wind turbines

As a curiosity, the manufacturers Vestas and Gamesa (now Siemens Gamesa), market leaders, had many years later in their catalog a wind turbine of very similar dimensions and power: the V52 and G52, both with 850 kilowatts of power and 52 meters of blade diameter.

Tvindkraft blade lifting

To get an idea of ​​the leap forward it took, one of the first wind turbines in Spain It did not arrive until several years later, in 1984. But it was a much more modest machine: 12 meters in diameter of blades and 15 kW of nominal power. A toy next to the Tvindkraft.

Another remarkable feature of the Tvindkraft is that it is a wind turbine that runs downwind, that is, it rotates thanks to the wind that indexes behind the gondola (nacelle in English). One of the benefits of this design is that the blades can be more flexible, since the risk of collision with the tower is avoided. However, the tower itself “shadows” the rotor, causing imbalances and loss of production. Nowadays, the industry has adopted a generalized windward facing design (the air hits the rotor directly).

Picture 1

45 years later the wind turbine is still working

In 2015, to the pride of the Danish wind industry in general and the Tvind association in particular, the wind turbine completed 40 years in operation. During all this time, many components have been replaced and certain updates have been made. Not for less, considering that the useful life of modern wind turbines is 20-25 years. In 1999, it was painted the red and white color that it currently looks.

Today is the day, after 45 years, that it is still operational. Although it is difficult to confirm, he is credited with the title of being the longest running modern wind turbine. Currently you can visit and see an exhibition about its history.

Wind power

Images | Wind power


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