Developing technology that is improving the prospects of wind energy, Fibersail has just raised €5 million in a round led by FORWARD.one with participation from Rockstart, Innoenergy, Caixa Capital, and, former LM Wind Power CEO, Marc de Jong.
The Porto-based startup is behind a data-driven shape sensing technology used for the monitoring of wind turbine blades. The tech has the power the enhance the performance of wind turbines and reduce operational costs by enabling the use of blade deformation for the control of wind turbines.
Founded in 2015 by sailing experts, including Olympic Medalist Hugo Rocha, alongside Vasco Serpa and Pedro Pinto, the founders are on a mission to add intelligence to the way wind turbines are built and operated – with the aim of enhancing the potential of wind energy.
Pedro Pinto, co-Founder and CEO, said: “With a passion for wind energy and background in high-performance sailing, my entire life was spent on understanding how to generate the best energy performance by using wind power. During the first years of Fibersail, I was amazed with the lack of information regarding the conditions and operations of wind turbine blades and the multi-billion euro cost it was generating every year. Now, together with our strong team of deep and greentech investors, we are disrupting the way these wind turbines are controlled and maintained.”
Wind energy is regarded as one of the most cost-efficient power sources worldwide – but it’s still to reach its full potential and take off. It’s reported that even with a record-breaking number of installations each year reaching over 743 GW of capacity in 2022, the world needs to triple the speed of installations to attain its carbon-neutral goals over the next decade. To achieve this, new turbines are being developed that have blades exceeding 100m in length. However, current blade monitoring solutions lack accuracy and are not prepared for tip displacements reaching more than 20 meters.
This is what Fibersail want to solve.
With a proprietary shape sensing technology, Fibersail is focused on the shape of the blade rather than root strain, enabling manufacturers and operators to design and operate better-performing wind turbines. The Fibersail technology enables this by precisely controlling and monitoring the behaviour of their blades, empowering in this way the EU vision to become climate neutral and energy independent.
The idea to measure the shape and deformation of sails came alive with the development of a sliding shape sensing system based on fibre optic technology. After 10 months of operational testing, Fibersail has reached an important milestone, demonstrating the ability to monitor and control blade performance and fatigue cycles throughout the asset’s lifetime. Fibersail will now accelerate its journey to disrupt the way wind turbines are monitored and controlled today.
Carlos Oliveira, Co-Founder and CCO, added: “My passion for renewable energies has always guided my contribution towards a cleaner, more sustainable, and better world. I have spent the last ten years optimizing the way we harness energy from the wind and I know first-hand how little is known about these ever-bigger composite structures. The potential this technology brings to the industry made me step in. Initially as an investor, and now as co-founder of the company, this was a challenge I felt the need to embrace. I truly believe that together with our strong investors and industry-leading partners, the Fibersail solution will fundamentally change the way in which wind turbines are controlled and the performance is optimized.”
With this investment round and by partnering with leading turbine manufacturers and operators, Fibersail is focused on scaling the team and its customer pipeline.
Max ter Horst, Managing Partner Energy, Rockstart commented: “Rockstart was one of the first investors to support the development of Fibersail’s innovative blade sensor technology. We are excited about its potential to improve performance and reduce repair costs for hundreds of thousands of wind turbines in a revolutionary way. This technology will thus make wind energy even more competitive, while providing excellent returns for asset operators who deploy their sensors. We are proud that Fibersail, Rockstart portfolio company and alumni of the Rockstart Energy program, is getting so much traction among leading wind energy players. We now continue to invest in their scaling”