Deep Tech engineering firm Akselos and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have won a major grant from the Swiss Innovation Agency (Innosuisse), worth 1.2 million Swiss francs to deliver a next-generation structural design and assessment tool for wind turbines.
Switzerland has been ranked most innovative country in the world for ten straight years, and the grant from Innosuisse, a Swiss Government Agency responsible for promoting the highest standards in science-based innovation, was awarded as part of the Europe-wide drive to create a carbon neutral and sustainable economy by 2050. The project aims to increase the computational capabilities of wind turbine applications, lowering the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of wind power overall, making it more competitive with coal and other fossil fuels.
“Globally, there is an urgent need for higher power renewable production capacities and improved efficiency,” said Dean Jan Hesthaven from EPFL. “Yet the ever-growing size of turbines has left manufacturers and operators with increasingly higher design and operational challenges. We need newer, better technologies to mitigate the associated risks and thus reduce cost.”
Currently, the high computational demands of simulating large assets – such as wind turbines operating in harsh conditions – limits the number of designs that realistically can be explored, leading to non-optimal designs and thus higher energy cost. The research, carried out by Dean Jan Hesthaven and Prof. Annalisa Buffa from EPFL, alongside engineers from Akselos, will expand the engineering limits of new turbine designs.
“This grant allows us to keep working at the cutting edge of computational design and engineering,” said Prof. Buffa from EPFL and a member on the Presiding Board of the National Research Council for the Swiss National Science Foundation. “It’s hugely exciting to be able to work on problems of such economic and societal importance as managing the energy transition. By developing superior designs, we can help governments and operators generate clean, sustainable power for future generations.”
“Being headquartered at EPFL’s Innovation Park, one of the most effective innovation hubs in the world, allows us to have constant contact with the latest developments in the scientific community,” commented Thomas Leurent, Akselos’ CEO. “By staying connected to internationally renowned research teams, we’ve been able to continually improve our digital twin technology and stay 10 years ahead of the competition. This grant is recognition of the value of that relationship.”
Through its patented component-based reduced basis finite element analysis (RB-FEA) technology, Akselos already provides the most advanced structural Digital Twins in many industry sectors. In collaboration with EPFL, Akselos will implement key features into their Akselos Wind product and provide a complete solution for the offshore wind industry, enabling manufacturers and operators to create better fit-for-purpose designs and accelerating the speed of innovation.