Driven by governmental policies aiming to reduce carbon footprints along with the increasingly competitive cost of wind energy compared with traditional fossil fuels, capturing wind energy is an attractive source of renewable energy. The planet will not run out of wind, so companies are racing to advance wind turbine technology to more efficient, more resilient, and bigger turbines. Larger turbines capture wind at higher altitudes where it tends to be stronger and more consistent, leading to better capacity factors and energy yields.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “the U.S. wind industry installed 13,413 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity in 2021, bringing the cumulative total to 135,886 MW. Wind provides more than 9 percent of electricity nationwide, over 50 percent in Iowa and South Dakota, and over 30 percent in Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota….”
The wind energy sector has unique challenges. Commercial onshore wind turbine blades are typically over 150 feet long, and some offshore blades exceed 350 feet. Extreme blade length complicates not only testing and manufacturing but also blade transport and delivery to customer sites.
The Winds of Change
Glasgow-based Myriad Wind Energy Systems is innovating next-generation high-performance wind energy solutions to mitigate some of the current challenges in the industry.
The company’s ingenious wind turbine design captures more energy overall. “We’re developing what’s called a multi-rotor wind turbine,” explains CTO and Co-founder Paul Pirrie. “The idea is to have lots of small rotors on one structure instead of having one giant rotor.” Another benefit is all components fit on standard heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), so Myriad’s multi-rotor wind turbine can access sites that are not feasible to access with large wind turbines.
Pirrie adds, “[In the future] when we want to scale up [production], all we need to do is increase volume. We can use the same supply chains, the same manufacturing facilities, the same test facilities—everything.”
Confronting Startup Challenges
Like most new companies, Myriad Wind faced the many costs of starting a new business, some expected and some unexpected. To secure financing, Myriad wanted to be able to present its ideas to investors in a compelling way that even non-engineers could understand. “As an engineer, I’ve used SOLIDWORKS® for a number of years, and it’s the best kind of 3D modeling package software,” notes Pirrie. “So, I was really keen to try and bring that into the business.”
Because Myriad was early stage and didn’t have much funding, Pirrie researched options for a powerful but inexpensive 3D CAD modeling solution. He soon discovered the SOLIDWORKS Startup Program. “It was an easy application process with just a few questions, including a pitch of what we’re trying to do [as a company],” enthuses Pirrie. Myriad was subsequently approved to receive the software.
Cranking Out Design Concepts
Assessing different design concepts quickly helped the young company test the most viable solutions. Myriad Wind Energy also used the built-in finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities in SOLIDWORKS to assess if designs were structurally sound. “It was really quick to be able to run some simulations and get an idea of the structural integrity,” recalls Pirrie. “That really helped us develop the concept further. From there you can build up the complexity, start reducing the material, and make more efficient [and detailed] designs.”
Moreover, Pirrie loved being able to show investors and stakeholders full-color 3D CAD models that helped everyone to visualize design concepts and gain a more complete understanding of the technology.
The company is planning to build a prototype of its state-of-the-art wind turbine in 2025. “I recommend the SOLIDWORKS Startup Program to other entrepreneurs,” concludes Pirrie. “It scales up as you grow, which is a great feature.”
If you’d like to learn more about the SOLIDWORKS Startup Program and what connecting SOLIDWORKS to the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE® platform can do for your company, please contact your local reseller.