EIT InnoEnergy supported wind turbine blade monitoring startup Fibersail has raised a €5m investment round led by FORWARD.one, a Dutch deep tech VC alongside Rockstart, EIT Innoenergy, Caixa Capital among others, and former LM Wind Power CEO, Marc de Jong, who is stepping in as a member of the board. With this investment round and by partnering with leading turbine manufacturers and operators, Fibersail is focused on scaling the team and its customer pipeline.
Wind energy is one of the most cost-efficient power sources worldwide, but 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. However, current monitoring solutions are not prepared for tip displacements reaching more than 20 meters.
By using their proprietary shape sensing technology, Fibersail, unlike current solutions, 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 behavior of their blades, empowering in this way the EU vision to become climate neutral and energy independent.
“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.” says Pedro Pinto, co-Founder and CEO.
“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 wind turbines work.” says Carlos Oliveira, co-Founder and CCO.
“We are extremely excited to join the Fibersail team on their journey to disrupt the wind turbine industry. Fibersail has the unique 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.” says Arie Göbel, Partner FORWARD.one.
Max ter Horst, Managing Partner Energy, Rockstart comments on the round: “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”
Fibersail was born 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 alive with the development of a sliding shape sensing system based on fiber 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. With his knowledge and experience from the wind turbine industry, Fibersail is ready for the next chapter.
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 accelerate its journey to disrupt the way wind turbines are monitored and controlled today.