In Formula one, every ounce of innovation, every fraction of an improvement, is critical – the difference between success and failure. The drive for improvements in efficiency, for eking out every last ounce of performance, is everything.
Now Oxford-based SME Anakata Wind Power, under the leadership of CEO and CTO Ben Wood, Ex- Chief Aerodynamicist at Mercedes Grand Prix, is bringing that philosophy and experience to the world of offshore wind, where improvements in the aerodynamic performance of a turbine’s blades in extreme conditions can significantly reduce the cost of low carbon energy.
Anakata is one of the companies that is seeking to export their world-leading technology to the biggest potential offshore wind market in the world – China – and is one of the first to benefit from access to the Chinese market through the support of our TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC). Anakata’s innovative products, inspired by Formula One, are grabbing international attention and following an initial introduction and support from ORE Catapult, Anakata signed an MOU with China’s TUS Wind, Qingdao Government and TUS Triple Helix to progress innovative rotor blade technology in the Chinese market in July 2019 and a joint venture agreement with TUS Wind in December 2019.
The company has successfully installed its innovative wind turbine blade enhancements, which can improve energy output by up to 10%, on a turbine at China’s Gansu Changma wind farm. This is the first time that blade aerodynamic add-ons, which are quick, safe and easy to install, have been used on a Chinese wind farm. The Anakata blade ‘winglets’ (which won the Shell Low Carbon Product Regional Final) and other Formula 1-inspired rotor add-on devices, some particularly targeted at mitigating blade leading-edge erosion, can be retrofitted to turbine blades to enhance their performance and increase energy production. The add-on components have been installed successfully on turbines in the UK, Europe and the US.
Ben Wood, CEO of Anakata Wind Power Resource (UK) Ltd, said: “Anakata is now successfully accessing the Chinese wind energy rotor blade retrofitting market for its innovative aerodynamic add-ons as a direct result of all the hard work of ORE Catapult, Innovate UK and the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre. Without their help, support and bridge-building with the ideal Chinese partner companies, this would have been a near impossibility. We are delighted to be able to bring such innovative technology to China and support the growth of the Chinese wind market. We’ve established a long-term strategic partnership with TORC and will co-locate our Chinese HQ with the Centre. We’ll continue to promote our technology and products through the Centre for the mutual benefit of both China and the UK.”
Anakata has been supported in accessing the Chinese market by TORC, a collaboration between China’s TUS Wind and ORE Catapult. TORC has established an innovation centre and incubation hub in Yantai High Tech Industrial Zone in Shandong Province to support the growth of the Chinese and UK offshore wind industries, developing collaborative research programmes, supporting market entry and incubation for UK businesses in China, providing commercial support for Chinese offshore wind developers, and supporting the demonstration of new technologies.
There are over 20,000 similar turbines in China that could be retrofitted with the rotor upgrades, representing a huge potential market for Anakata and making a significant contribution to improving China’s renewable energy efficiency and carbon reduction efforts. China’s huge renewable ambitions provide not only a massive export potential for innovative UK businesses but will also play a major part in decarbonising one of the biggest industrial powers in the world. Many of the parts will continue to be manufactured in the UK, enabling further investment in UK manufacturing and the continuing development of enhanced technology solutions for offshore wind, both in the UK and globally.
Anakata is a brilliant example of cross sector innovation and brings the perfect fusion of Formula One innovation and wind turbine aerodynamics to offer a suite of inexpensive aerodynamic add-ons tailored to any wind turbine at any location, to increase the productivity of existing hardware.