A company spun-out of one with a successful history of designing sails for yachts has developed a new type of blade for offshore wind turbines that could provide significant efficiency savings.
Working with ORE Catapult in the UK, ACT Blade has adapted technology originally developed to design sails for some of the world’s fastest racing yachts. The Edinburgh-based company believes the concept it has developed could significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind energy.
A turbine blade made using the concept ACT Blade has developed could be 50% lighter and 30% stiffer than a conventional fibreglass blade. Initial feasibility studies estimate it could produce a 9.3% increase in energy production and reduce the levelised cost of energy from offshore wind by 8.7%.
Put simply, a lighter blade can produce more power. If a blade is lighter, it can be made longer than a conventional blade, and capture more wind. That increases energy production, which reduces the cost of energy. The company’s blade has a composite internal structure clad with textile.
ACT Blade cofounder and chief executive Dr Sabrina Malpede said she came up with the idea in 2013, when the yachting industry was still suffering from the financial crisis. At the time she was working for sail company SMAR Azure.
“We started looking at where else we could apply our technology,” she said. SMAR Azure has been designing some of the fastest sails in the world for many years.
Having established ACT Blade, Dr Malpede’s company entered ORE Catapult’s blades innovation challenge.
The Scottish company believes its blades could have other advantages too. They should be less expensive to manufacture and transport. It believes the blade could be easier to control than a conventional blade, and that it will be less susceptible to erosion.