Wind Turbine Technology to Reduce Reliance on Rare Earths

The promising innovation for the wind power industry is a change in the structure of wind turbines.

Rare earths (TR), a group of 17 precious minerals, are increasingly essential for modern technology and the energy transition. From mobile phones and superconductors to wind turbines and electric cars, these minerals play a vital role in making high-tech products. However, TR mining and extraction is challenging and often harmful to the environment. according to the Neofeed website.

By 2040, the global demand for TR is expected to increase six-fold, according to a study by Harvard University. These minerals are relatively abundant but are generally dispersed in low concentrations, making extraction complex and expensive. Additionally, RT mining is known to produce large amounts of toxic waste, which goes against sustainability goals. British startup GreenSpur may have found a solution to reduce reliance on RT in the power turbine industry wind. Founded in 2014, the company has developed wind turbines that do not require rare minerals to function.

GreenSpur modified the design of the wind turbine power generator, replacing rare minerals with more common, easily mined materials. Conventional power generation turbine design uses moving TR magnets around static copper wire coils to generate power. GreenSpur has adopted an “axial architecture” in which the coils are stacked on top of each other. magnets, allowing the use of less powerful materials, such as ferrite, a naturally occurring derivative of iron, instead of TR. The copper of the coils was also replaced by aluminum.
This innovative approach to power generation not only reduces reliance on TRs, but also has the potential to make wind turbines lighter. A 15-megawatt generator developed by GreenSpur resulted in a 56% weight reduction compared to traditional designs, without compromising efficiency.

While GreenSpur’s technology has shown promise in early trials, it will take time to become widely applicable. However, the global excitement surrounding this discovery is justified, not only by the potential for a more sustainable future, but also by the economic benefits.
Growing demand for TR

The global demand for TR continues to grow, with China leading the way in production, with around 44 million tons in reserves. Brazil ranks second, with half of that total. Increased demand is driving an increase in requests for TR mining studies in Brazil, which have grown 70% in two years.

The global TR market is projected to reach $5.5 billion over the next five years, with a CAGR of 10% between 2021 and 2028. This reflects the increased production of electric vehicles and wind farms, which require significant amounts of these minerals.
GreenSpur’s innovation is an important step in the search for sustainable alternatives to rare minerals. As the demand for cutting-edge technology and renewable energy continues to grow, solutions like this can play a vital role in protecting the environment and advancing the global economy.