Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

Triblade Report Summary

Project ID: 736224

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Triblade (New Rotor Blade Design for Wind Turbines)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source in Europe, estimated to have accounted for 10.2% of total electricity in Europe in 2015, and with expected installed capacity of 320 GW, in 2030. Despite being capital intensive, it is one of the most cost-effective renewable technologies in terms of the cost per kWh of electricity generated, and to drive technical developments to better performances and further growth, there is still a need to reduce the overall cost of wind power. The capital costs (CAPEX) of a wind power project can be broken down into several categories, with around 13% attributable to the rotor blades, 50% of which is material cost. Therefore, rotor blades are decisive in the pursue of lower CAPEX and in the pursue of improved energy production, consequently influencing final costs of energy – CoE.
Rotor blades have witnessed marked progress in structural design and manufacturing over the last years. In order to increase the efficiency further, and to extract more energy from wind turbines, the trend is to make larger turbines. However, as the length of current rotor blades increase, their associated cost and weight increase at a faster rate than the turbine’s potential power output, not being economically viable to produce turbines beyond a certain size. Furthermore, as blades get longer they are becoming increasingly difficult to manufacture and transport. In fact, transportation of heavy/ long blades is a major problem setting the limit for land based wind turbines around 3MW.
To sum up, the technical and commercial performance of wind turbines is limited by rotor blade technology, and as consequence, finding new solutions becomes of the utmost importance. To overcome this specific issue with rotor blades, new design approaches and/or new materials and standardisation of production processes are needed. Leveraging on the opportunity provided by the SME Instrument, Winfoor (WF) aim at introducing a new and ground-breaking technology – Triblade - to the wind energy market, ceasing a major market opportunity that is expected to return an accumulated turnover of approx. €87 million in a period of 5 years.
Triblade is a new technology for large scale wind turbine rotor blades that can disrupt the entire wind power industry. Triblade, is a 3-in-1-blade that will allow rotor blades to be longer (up to 100%), stronger and much lighter (up to 80%) than current offerings, while reducing production cost and increasing ease of transport and installation. These are game changing improvements that give to WF a unique opportunity in today’s global wind turbine rotor blade market. The technology may also play a decisive role in the development of next generation of larger, more efficient wind turbines and to accelerate the transition to greater use of renewables worldwide.

OBJECTIVES
During the SME Instrument Phase 1 project we have worked with refining and concluding technical aspects together with business development. The objectives of this feasibility study were:
1. Refine and conclude the Triblade modular concept;
2. Development of the innovation business plan.
These objectives were pursued through the execution of 6 tasks:
• Task 1 - Concept optimisation
• Task 2 - Manufacturing process development.
• Task 3 - Market analysis:
• Task 4 - Establish agreements with stakeholders
• Task 5 - Business plan development
• Task 6 - Develop the innovation project plan

CONCLUSIONS
Our conclusions from the technical feasibility studies are that Triblade is technically feasible, have the desired benefits and the production can be upscaled to the volume needed for the targeted markets. The market and competitor analysis above have identified segments and highlighted our competitive strengths.
In general, we can summarize that in order to be considered by the targeted users/stakeholders, the solution has to be certificated, tested and demonstrated in real conditions. Therefore during the innovation project, the WF want to mature and prepare market roll-out of its solution by optimizing its functionalities, validating the technology in an operational environment engaging with several stakeholders (e.g. Letters attached). The innovation project will be an opportunity to test, validate and update Triblade blades and the commercialization strategy for the initial targeted market (Europe). This feasibility study leads us to the conclusion that the critical path to market is market acceptance from all downstream stakeholders. Thus, the focus of the innovation project (phase 2) will prepare for market uptake by demonstrating the Triblade concept in a realistic environment Nordic Folkecenter test centre in Jutland, Denmark.
The feasibility study clearly shows that Triblade holds a range of clear advantages compared to the traditional blades used today. More specifically, Triblade will enable longer, lighter and stronger blades, allowing to more efficient energy production. In addition, the technology is expected to reduce manufacture costs by 70%, and cut back blade transportation and installation costs by 80% by reducing the installation time and the transportation volume
In the short term, the WF aims to exploit European markets (both onshore and offshore) which will require us to either create partnerships or license the technology/concept. Consequently, in the innovation project, we will develop a strategy for licensing the technology to sub suppliers that are already established in this market. Furthermore, we have freedom to operate and to exploit the technology concept in the wind energy industry. Last but not least, the product certification and the extensive knowledge developed during the last years will not be possible to rapidly replicate by other competitors, giving a critical exploitation advantage for WF, as holder of the most promising technology for wind turbine blades.
Based on the study, we have decided to apply to the SME instrument phase 2 with unchanged aim and objectives. The project will be fundamental to achieve the documentation for the benefits of the new wind turbine blade concept, for getting the end-users to showcase it and to certificate the Triblade concept. The innovation project will a crucial step in our route-to-market strategy and with a successful outcome, we will be ready for market introduction.
Despite the unchanged aim and objectives this SME Instrument Phase 1 resulted in the conclusion that WF should apply for the Phase 2 of SME Instrument as the sole participant. During this SME Instrument Phase 1 project WF and MC worked together in order to assess Triblade technical and market viability and minimize project risk. However, as result the Feasibility Study both WF and MC concluded that it would not make sense to include MC as a partner in the next steps of Triblade route to market, maintain however a commercial (being MC a material supplier) and advisory relation. This decision was mainly based on the fact that, by selecting MC as the exclusive supplier of glass fibre or carbon fibre this would limit the chances of Triblade’s success. The alternative to this MC exclusivity (i.e. freedom to choose other suppliers) would result in unclear benefits for MC.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The work performed is during this Phase 1 of the SME Instrument is directly linked with the objectives described above, since we were able to accomplish all the objectives set to this project. Namely, during the Triblade project we:
1. Refine and conclude the Triblade modular concept;
2. Develop the innovation business plan.

These milestones were achieved through the execution of 6 tasks:
• Task 1 - Concept optimisation
• Task 2 - Manufacturing process development.
• Task 3 - Market analysis:
• Task 4 - Establish agreements with stakeholders
• Task 5 - Business plan development
• Task 6 - Develop the innovation project plan

The results show that Triblade is technically feasible, have the desired benefits and the production can be upscaled to the volume needed for the targeted markets. The results from this SME instrument Phase 1 demonstrate that in order to be considered by the targeted users/stakeholders, the solution has to be certificated, tested and demonstrated in real conditions.
The feasibility study clearly shows that Triblade holds a range of clear advantages compared to the traditional blades used today. More specifically, Triblade will enable longer, lighter and stronger blades, allowing to more efficient energy production. In addition, the technology is expected to reduce manufacture costs by 70%, and cut back blade transportation and installation costs by 80% by reducing the installation time and the transportation volume
In the short term, the WF aims to exploit European markets (both onshore and offshore) which will require us to either create partnerships or license the technology/concept. Consequently, in the innovation project, we will develop a strategy for licensing the technology to sub suppliers that are already established in this market. Furthermore, we have freedom to operate and to exploit the technology concept in the wind energy industry.
Based on the study, we have decided to apply to the SME instrument Phase 2 (as sole participant) with unchanged aim and objectives. The project will be fundamental to achieve the documentation for the benefits of the new wind turbine blade concept, for getting the end-users to showcase it and to certificate the Triblade concept. The innovation project will a crucial step in our route-to-market strategy and with a successful outcome, we will be ready for market introduction.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Our feasibility study, trough testing, simulations and calculations confirmed our initial predictions for Triblade’s benefits. Triblade solves the economic viability problem that arises from increasing the length of current turbine blades. The new technology will facilitate the production of much lighter (80%) and longer blades (up to 100%), which is desirable since the power output of a given turbine increases in proportion to the square of the blade length at a reduced cost (up to 60%). Wind turbines will therefore offer significantly more power output (up to 300%) the longer the blades get, and by using a single large turbine instead of several smaller ones, maintenance costs will be reduced. Furthermore, the introduction of a modular design will allow for easier transportation and installation, which may also give access to sites that were previously inaccessible. In addition, Triblade will be very suitable for automated manufacture as it is made up by many standard components that need to be produced in large numbers, and consequently, it will be possible to manufacture the blade efficiently and at low cost.
This project has the potential to significantly alter the economics and scale of wind power, playing an important role in increasing the installed base worldwide and driving the next generation of larger, more efficient wind turbines. This project offers a new technology that gives wind turbine OEMs a competitive advantage through state-of-the-art blades. Triblade will:
• Reduce blade weight (up to 80%) while increasing the blade strength, making it possible to manufacture blades twice as long as today;
• Make power output four times as large, i.e. an increase of 300%;
• Reduce costs of manufacture process (up to 60%) due to higher degree of automation;
• Allow an easier transportation and installation, due to modularity, which may also give access to sites that were previously inaccessible;
• Ultimately, reduce CoE.

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