The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a public-private partnership between BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls Royce, Shell and the UK government, will invest £15.5 million (€19 million) in Isle of Wight-based Blade Dynamics.
The institute was set up to advance renewables technologies to help meet the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets. In 2011, the government asked it to look at developing blade technology.
The investment aims to help Blade Dynamics develop some of the largest rotor blades for future 8-10MW turbines. The design should contribute towards further reducing the lifecycle cost of wind energy.
The project aims to develop prototype blades by late 2014, with the first structural testing of the blades to be carried out at a UK test facility.
The first stage focuses on blade design, in collaboration with a major turbine manufacturer. It also aims to extend Blade Dynamics’ current experience from manufacturing 49-metre long blades. These have successfully completed full structural testing for GL certification at the NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) test facility in Boston, USA.
The second stage aims to establish proposed manufacturing processes for blades for a current 6MW turbine. Final project stages include testing and verifying prototype blade performance against predicted performance.
Similar to the smaller blade, Blade Dynamics will construct the 80-100 metre-long modular-built blades with carbon fibre incorporated in the load-carrying spar structure.
These blades are claimed to be 40% lighter than conventional blades of similar length but built in glass-fibre composite. A 75-metre long blade fitted on a 6MW Siemens turbine in 2012 is currently the world’s longest in operation.