ACT Blade Ltd develops the next generation of wind turbine blades. ACT Blades are lighter than conventional blades, therefore allow the development of longer blade. They are made of components and therefore promoting flexibility in the design and manufacturing of blades.
TypeStartup or self-employed
FoundersS. Malpede, D. MacVicar, A. Rosiello, J. D. Bower and C. Rutherford
ACT Blade Ltd develops the next generation of blades for wind turbines: the ACT Blades.
Onshore wind energy is now subsidy free and cost of offshore wind energy is rapidly decreasing. To remain competitive against alternative sources of energy, the industry is on a mission to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) by increasing annual energy production. The most effective way to do this is through the use of longer blades, but these are becoming heavier, more difficult to transport, and expensive to build. And as the wind industry seeks to deploy in areas with slower wind speeds, there is a growing need to look beyond existing technologies.
The ACT Blade is a viable solution, with the potential to be the lightest and most controllable wind turbine blade ever developed. It provides two distinctive levels of innovation: (i) a novel construction approach, with an internal composite structure covered by tensioned engineered textile, and (ii) a control system to reduce blade loads and optimise performance according to wind conditions. Both innovations are covered under patent protection.
The current technology stage is a tested full scale prototype.
ACT Blade’s radical and innovative design and manufacturing flexibility exploits the aero-elastic science and expertise acquired by company founder Dr Sabrina Malpede when designing the fastest racing yacht in the world: the America’s Cup boat. It enables the construction of blades that are lighter and longer than conventional fibre-glass blades, leading to a 9.3% increase in energy production and a 6.7% decrease in LCOE.
Not only are the ACT Blades lighter, but also simpler, quicker and cheaper to manufacture, their textile-covered spar and ribs can be produced and assembled with reduced up-front investment and a leaner production process, leading to lower tooling costs (-64%), lower cost of labour (-27%) and a shorter processing time (-25%).
ACT Blade Ltd targets a remunerative and expanding market. The global wind turbine blade market average annual value is approximately £7bn.
Wind turbine manufacturers operate worldwide, and blades are a key area of strategic decision-making in terms of supply-chain management, especially decisions around whether to undertake design or manufacture activities in-house, to outsource one or both of these, or to use a mix of approaches. The industry’s value chain comprises several independent blade manufacturers which service turbine manufacturers from their bases in Asia and Europe.
Our strategic goal is to become the favored independent manufacturer and supplier of high-performance blades to all wind turbine manufacturers who seek advanced technological solutions to expand the scope of their commercial activities.
To start supplying new blades for the onshore market, we must first demonstrate our technology works in the most challenging environmental conditions. Life extension of existing wind farm sites presents a unique opportunity to test the ACT Blade’s technical and operational benefits, with three main strategic reasons: (1) a lighter blade can be longer whilst remaining within the load limits of the rest of the turbine, increasing energy yield; (2) our technology will be unknown to the customer, and experimenting on a less expensive asset represents a more attractive risk/reward ratio; and (3) market entry is quicker as existing infrastructure allows for smaller batches (which most large OEMs are currently unable to serve).
The market for life extension solutions that contain blade replacements is expected to grow significantly in the next five years, with 86GW of onshore wind capacity set to be decommissioned by 2030. 76% of this capacity is in Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK.
Our financial projections are based on extremely detailed revenue and cost models. They have been developed in collaboration with key industrial partners, from our international innovation ecosystem. They show that ACT Blade will start to generate revenues in the third quarter of 2021 and reach £15.7m by 2025.
ACT Blade was founded in Nov 2015 by Dr Sabrina Malpede (Managing Director), Dr Alessandro Rosiello (Finance and Non-Executive Director) and Dr Donald MacVicar (Technical Director), who have fifteen years’ experience in developing and commercialising innovative high-tech design solutions in the team’s first successful venture, SMAR Azure Ltd, the market leader in tailored computerized design and analytical software for the marine industry. Their products are used by over 200 users in 30 countries, including two certification societies (Lloyd’s Register and RINA).
The R&D team comprises four specialists in aerodynamics and structures (Dr N. Jarvstrat, Mr. L. Pergod, Mr. N. Meyn and Mr. N. Adams), one expert in blade manufacturing (M./ D.J. Kootsta), who has more than 25 years of experience in setting blade manufacturing facilities around the world and one in composite manufacturing engineer (Mr. J. Boyle). The company also employs Miss M. Gierark and N. Albanna to cover administrative tasks.
The ACT Blade team works in close collaboration with:
• Innovation hubs, such as: the High Value Manufacturing Catapults (AFRC, AMRC), which support the company in the manufacturing of the internal structure of the blade and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC), which is carrying out the structural analysis of the blade as well as textile tests.
• High-tech companies, such as: Concordia Textiles, specialist in textile with available R&D team and laboratories; DNV-GL, leader in the certification of wind turbine blades.
Since the outset, the company has been awarded by 3 Innovate UK grant award and one from the Energy Institute of Technology InnoEnergy.