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LM Glasfiber has been awarded DKK 30 million by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation for the development of an innovative blade technology based on the use of completely novel types of fibre.
LM Glasfiber has stepped up its R&D activities by launching an ambitious research program worth DKK 60 million. And now the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, in one of its biggest investments to date, has awarded approx. DKK 30 million to the program, which will enable LM Glasfiber to accelerate its development of a technology that will make production of the most important wind turbine component much faster and more cost-efficient than has been possible until now.
“The Foundation’s investment in a new production platform will contribute to ensuring that Denmark continues to play a significant role in setting the agenda for wind energy, an area where we are currently the world’s leading nation. At a time when wind energy accounts for an increasing part of the global production of electricity, it is important for the Danish wind turbine industry to secure its continued technological development and innovative edge in its efforts to maintain this leading position,” says the Foundation’s chairman, Mr. Jørgen Mads Clausen, CEO of Danfoss.
Thanks to high levels of automation, the new blade technology, ‘Blade King’, will significantly increase the efficiency of the processes of laying up the fiber material in the mould and finally moulding the actual wind turbine blade. The ultimate goal is to cut the total production time in half.
“Today, wind energy accounts for about one percent of the global consumption of electricity, and statistical projections indicate that by 2030, this level will have increased to at least 10-15 percent. There is still considerable potential for optimizing and improving our existing technology platform, but in order to sustain our ability to meet the market demands for an extended future, the industry needs a quantum leap in materials and production technology. The aim is for ‘Blade King’ to help us achieve that,” says Frank V. Nielsen, Vice President of Research & Development at LM Glasfiber.
For the development of the ‘Blade King’ technology, LM Glasfiber has partnered up with Aalborg University and Risoe DTU, which are to supply research and know-how on the new fiber types. The project also involves a third partner, the Danish company Comfil, based in Silkeborg, which will contribute know-how of thermoplastic composites.
Over the next five years, the four companies and institutions will work together to develop the new technology and make it ready for production. The first blades manufactured with the new technology are expected to reach the market by 2015, at the latest.
“The total development budget amounts to approx. DKK 60 million, so the support from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation will be a tremendous boost to our ability to quickly realize the project. And there is no doubt whatsoever that development is urgently needed in the wind energy sector. Last year, 35 percent of U.S. investments and 40 percent of European investments in new electricity generation capacity went to wind energy projects, which clearly demonstrates that the world is now shifting to renewable energy sources – and that wind energy can no longer be regarded as merely a niche industry,” says Frank V. Nielsen, and he continues: “This is why it is important for LM Glasfiber to play a leading role in shaping the future development of the wind turbine industry. In the coming years we wish to not only maintain, but expand our position as the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbine blades, and the ‘Blade King’ project will help us do just that.”
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