As the world looks to wind energy to power future generations, the demand for sustainable, powerful blades has accelerated.
ACT Blade Ltd was founded in 2015 following a feasibility study with DNV-GL and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which concluded that the ACT Blade was not only technically viable but could offer significant cost savings.
The blade’s light textile body and longer shape allows it to harvest more wind than ever before, and a modular structure provides adaptability for any weather conditions. ACT Blade have incorporated the same technology used to create the fastest boat in the world – the America’s cup yacht – into their designs, and it could cut the cost of energy production by 9%.
ACT blades are made from recycled carbon fibre, which means:
The blades don’t require finishing and painting, which is a time consuming and polluting process, making them easier to recycle and more sustainable.
ACT Blade’s commercialisation journey started at ORE Catapult, where research engineers and innovation specialists worked alongside ACT Blade to source project funding and further develop the innovative technology design.
Now, as part of an Innovate UK-funded project, ORE Catapult is working alongside the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, to support ACT Blade develop and bring the blade to market.
The University of Sheffield’s AMRC used their experience in composite materials to support the development of a prototype blade. The prototype was completed in February 2020 and successfully underwent testing and validation with AMRC support at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth.
At the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre applied their expertise in ‘lightweighting’ – the process of making products or parts lighter to reduce costs, energy expenditure and carbon emissions. They manufactured three ACT27 blades, ready for testing in a real-world environment.
In July 2021, the project reached a major milestone as the three blades were installed on a real-world turbine at the Energy Technology Centre’s wind farm test site at Myres Hill in Scotland, and it was here they started to generate electricity.
Real-world testing facilities are vital for technology developers like ACT Blade to test their innovative designs and gain investor and industry confidence in the technology. This real-world test was the culmination of six years’ work and was successfully completed on 31 January 2022.
The company is now developing its first commercial blade – the ACT100 – a 49m long blade to power a 2MW turbine, due to enter the market in 2024. There are now 10 employees working at ACT Blade.
“The ORE Catapult impact on our company has been massive – from the outset they have ‘catapulted’ our technology development – providing market intelligence, technical expertise and a network of contacts that were instrumental to the success of our initial feasibility study, which ended with the creation of the company.
“Since then, ORE Catapult has supported and empowered our every step on both the technological and commercialisation road map. They have mentored our decision-making process and supported us through the challenges of funding an innovative and capex-intensive innovation project like ACT Blade.
“We are very grateful to ORE Catapult for having been with us on our journey.”
Dr Sabrina Malpede, Managing Director and co-founder of ACT Blade