Porto and Rotterdam-based Fibersail, a startup that makes critical structures on wind turbines smarter and safer, announced on Tuesday that it has raised €5M in a fresh round of funding.
Fibersail says it will use the funds to scale its team and its customer pipeline by partnering with ‘leading’ turbine manufacturers and operators.
Investors in this round
The round was led by Dutch deep tech venture capital firm FORWARD.one, alongside Rockstart, Innoenergy, and Caixa Capital, among others. Former LM Wind Power CEO, Marc de Jong, will join as a member of the board.
Arie Göbel, Partner at FORWARD.one, says, “Fibersail has the ability to accurately monitor deformation along the full length of wind turbine blades, in-situ and in real-time. We are convinced that this ability will have a profound and lasting impact on the ways in which wind turbines are designed and operated.”
Rockstart was one of the first investors to support the development of Fibersail’s blade sensor technology. Speaking on the investment, Max ter Horst, Managing Partner Energy, Rockstart, says, “We are excited about Fibersail’s 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 now continue to invest in their scaling.”
“The future of blade monitoring”
Wind energy is one of the cost-efficient power sources worldwide. However, 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 with blades exceeding 100 meters in length, are being developed and tested. But current blade monitoring solutions lack accuracy and are not prepared for tip displacements reaching more than 20 meters.
This is where Fibersail steps in. Founded in 2015 by initial founders, Pedro Pinto, Hugo Rocha and Vasco Serpa, and later joined by co-founder Carlos Oliveira, Fibersail is a mission-driven company that is adding intelligence to the way wind turbines are built and operated.
The company uses its proprietary shape sensing technology to focus on the shape of the blade rather than root strain, enabling manufacturers and operators to design and operate better-performing wind turbines. The technology enables this by controlling and monitoring the behaviour of their blades, thereby empowering and enabling the EU vision to become climate neutral and energy independent.
Pedro Pinto says, “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.”
How was Fibersail born?
Fibersail originated from an idea by initial founders and sailing experts, Hugo Rocha (Olympic medalist), Vasco Serpa (Investor) and Pedro Pinto (Entrepreneur), to search for the ‘perfect’ shape of sails. The idea to measure the shape and deformation of sails came with the development of a sliding shape sensing system based on fibre optic technology.
After proving that the principle of shape sensing applied to wind turbine blades would disrupt the wind industry, a new co-founder, Carlos Oliveira, joined the team.
Carlos Oliveira says, “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 optimising 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 the Fibersail solution will fundamentally change the way in which wind turbines are controlled and the performance is optimised.”
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. The company looks to accelerate its journey to disrupt the way wind turbines are monitored and controlled today.
The company has offices in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Bogota, Colombia.