Winfoor is a spin off from the Lund University, Sweden. Behind the company is a multidisciplinary group of researchers from the fields of mathematics, fluid mechanics and structural mechanics. The team is passionate about building a company based on vision and expertise, with the purpose of integrating new technologies in the wind energy sector.
The company has developed Triblade, a disruptive technology for wind turbine rotor blades that has the potential to impact the entire wind power industry. The new technology is a 3-in-1-blade that will allow rotor blades to be longer, stronger and much lighter than current offerings, while reducing production costs and increasing ease of transport and installation.
These are game changing improvements that gives Winfoor a unique opportunity in today’s global wind turbine rotor blade market. The technology may also play a decisive role in driving the development of next generation of larger, more efficient wind turbines and to accelerate the transition to greater use of renewables worldwide.
The rotor blade market space
Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source in Europe, where it is estimated to have accounted for over 10 % of the total electricity production in 2015. It is the second largest renewable energy source after hydro energy. Although it is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy sources, it is capital intensive and reducing cost of purchase, installation and operations of wind turbines is top priority for the industry. For the capital costs (CAPEX) up to 30 % of the cost of a modern large scale wind turbine is attributed to the rotor blades and 60 % of that cost is just for the material. Furthermore, blade production is very labor intensive, often engaging large portions of wind turbine makers work force. Therefore, rotor blades are decisive in the race to lower CAPEX and increase energy production, consequently influencing final costs of energy.
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 the turbines larger. 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 and long blades is a major problem setting the limit for land based wind turbines around 3 MW.
In summary, the technical and commercial performance of wind turbines is limited by rotor blade technology, and as the industry is growing more and more mature, optimization of the cooperation in the supply chain, to find new solutions, becomes of the utmost importance. To overcome this specific issue with rotor blades, new design approaches and/or new materials and standardization of production processes are needed.