World’s lightest turbine blade?3 June 2020
ACT Blade, a spin-off company from UK yacht-sail developer SMAR Azure, has announced that it has successfully completed the first of two static tests of its novel lightweight wind turbine blade at Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, UK. The tests will pave the way for its first operational deployment later this year.
Above: Lightweight blade under test at the National Renewable Energy Centre, Blyth
Made up of an internal composite structure and high-tech textiles, as opposed to the prevailing fibreglass, Edinburgh-based ACT’s blades are 24% lighter. The lower weight means blades can be made 10% longer than the standard 55 m blade around today: producing 9% more power and reducing the cost of generation by 6.7%, says ORE Catapult.
The first static test took place over three weeks. A full-length blade (13 m) was subjected to what is described as “the world’s toughest simulation of offshore wind conditions, aimed at testing its structural integrity and durability to the limit.”
The test results showed that the blade could withstand extreme loads, going beyond those predicted for an in-service turbine. Post-test inspections show it to have held its shape with no damage. The test data – including optically measured strain and deflection results from within the blade textile – are being analysed to gain a fuller understanding of the blade’s behaviour.
ACT Blade was founded in 2015 as an offshoot of the established yacht-sail design company SMAR Azure Ltd. The company’s blade concept was based upon the realisation that the light, durable structure of yacht sails could be adapted for offshore wind turbine blades.
Dr Sabrina Malpede, CEO at ACT Blade, commented: “I realised that the offshore wind industry was engaged in the same race as we were in the yacht-racing world: we need to reduce loads and capture more wind power.
Following the static tests the next step will be installation of three blades on a working wind turbine at the Myres Hill wind farm in Scotland.