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Behind the Innovation – An R&D project on wind turbine technology

16 January 2024

A featured image for the blog post explaining about the energy-efficient wind turbines.

At Alexander Clifford, we’re passionate about great ideas and innovative thinking. From our work in securing R&D tax credits for our clients, we have the privilege of learning in our technical consultations how exactly this project came to life and the natural trials that arise when attempting to advance past an industry challenge. When we look at the processes behind achievements, they are rarely simple or linear. It’s fascinating to watch in real-time the work of our clients transform how each of their industries function at their core, becoming more efficient, green and enriched. Let’s unfold the story of the wind turbine project of one of our clients, EvoRevo Limited, which stands out to our technical advisors as a true testament to what the R&D initiative is all about.

Introducing the wind turbine project, Borrum

Our client, EvoRevo Limited, has a powerful mission to propel innovation by specialising in advancing projects from Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 to TRL 6. They use cutting-edge technologies to solve engineering unknowns, drive sustainability, and push the boundaries of what’s possible within sustainable technology. Their Director, Gordon Ross, has 25 years of experience as a distinguished innovator contributing to the world of physics and software engineering with a deep interest in renewables. His company plays a crucial role in shaping the landscape of energy innovation.

This mission is central to their wind turbine project, Borrum. The objective of Borrum was to optimise the design of wind turbines, making them portable and allowing maximum energy efficiency in difficult weather conditions. They identified that the industry benchmark had limitations. They set out to find out how they could source renewable energy in unpredictable weather conditions without damaging the highly expensive wind turbines.

What was the initial idea behind this innovation?

Every successful R&D project starts with an idea. Often, innovators encounter a challenge while trying to carry out their business operations, and they take it upon themselves to find the solution needed to facilitate their business goals or enhance their operations. 

This was the case for EveRevo. They were in the middle of creating a self-sufficient vertical wind farm which would run on renewable energy which is why they needed to install wind turbines. When strategising about the placement of wind turbines, they found traditional wind turbines took up too much ground surface space. A vertical farm optimises space by cultivating crops in vertically stacked layers or structures, often in urban environments. Consequently, we defined limits on the space allocated for agricultural machinery, ensuring sufficient room for crops to meet targets. The current size of wind turbines reduces the potential crop yield.

EvoRevo did trial 2 wind turbines from what was already on the market. However, they did not withstand the high wind speed of the location and fell apart.

The key objective of the wind turbine project

To succeed in their mission of creating a self-sufficient vertical farm in their desired location, they wanted to rethink the design of wind turbines to maximise efficiency, even during extreme weather conditions found on Scottish hillsides. Turbulent winds can impose stress on the turbine structure and blades, potentially reducing their lifespan. Also, traditional wind turbines are only optimal when the wind is coming from a specific direction, known as the “windward” side. These turbines are designed to face the wind, capturing the maximum kinetic energy from its force. This is a challenge because the horizontal axis wind turbines aren’t portable and optimal when the wind comes from varying directions. 

If they succeeded in advancing past the challenges of traditional, large-scale wind turbines, it would mean more geographical areas could achieve wind turbine efficiency. Wind turbines could last longer without needing consistent repairs or an expensive replacement caused by high wind speed. This required an evolution in wind turbine engineering, completely rethinking the structure.

The final solution

The hard work of the Borrum project team paid off with a successful new design of wind turbines. This success wasn’t straightforward because they were starting from scratch. Their project’s objective required a novel approach of outside-the-box thinking to ensure there would be no breakage of the turbine in the Scottish environment.    

Different weights of the turbine had to be recorded and trailed, as well as analysis into the design of the shaft, and wind turbine blades. They trialled different materials and underwent a rigorous testing phase as well as monitoring to see how their designs coped with different conditions such as temperature and rainfall. It needed to be ensured there was minimal bending of the entire turbine’s structure because this could manifest to grow worse. There were continuous iterations until they found the right design. They achieved their objective of a portable and durable wind turbine and were able to achieve the minimum momentum needed to reach the optimum speed. Their solution didn’t have corrosion or tearing of any metals.

A prototype of wind turbine

The achievements of the wind turbine project

EveRevo’s innovative project, Borrum, resulted in an enhanced wind turbine design that: 

  • Is portable – This enables flexible deployment of the turbine in diverse locations including off-grid or remote areas. The wind turbine can be moved to maximise efficiency if its original location has low wind speed. 
  • Is stronger – It can withstand high wind speed unlike anything that was already existing 
  • Is agostic to wind direction – Electrical generators can still produce electricity regardless of which way the wind is blowing. 
  • Helps to reduce carbon emissions – More people can choose wind energy without the concern of it not working due to the extreme weather conditions where they are based. It enables more people to make greener decisions. 
  • Is smaller in size – The small wind turbine design helps the portability and enables it not to take up as much room for vertical farming. 
  • Has reduced installation and maintenance costs – Once again this allows a green solution to be attainable for individuals and businesses to source their energy. By reducing the restriction of cost, the wind turbines help reduce carbon emissions by reducing the amount people are using non-renewable energy sources, helping us get a step closer to achieving the UN’s Net Zero by 2050 goal.
  • Has an intended life span of 25 years – With annual maintenance, the design of these wind turbines can provide renewable energy for a quarter of a century in extreme weather conditions.
  • Has adaptive responses – Given the chaotic nature of the Scottish weather, EvoRevo implemented a real-time monitoring system that provided constant updates on environmental conditions. This allows them to adaptively respond to sudden changes, ensuring the system’s stability and functionality.

How did EvoRevo receive R&D tax credits with Alexander Clifford?

Our expert team of R&D tax credit specialists were able to create a confident R&D claim on behalf of EvoRevo for their wind turbine project, Borrum, because they met the eligibility criteria. They made a huge advancement in wind turbine engineering, removing the challenges that are faced when trying to source our energy from wind as opposed to using non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels. The key information to do this was not available but this uncertainty did not hold them back. They designed a reliable wind turbine that optimally worked in the high wind conditions found in Scotland with variable levels of humidity and gust strength.  

They underwent lots of trial and error. As part of testing the wind turbine’s resilience, they deliberately subjected it to extreme weather scenarios that exceeded anticipated conditions. This included simulations of high wind speeds, rapid temperature fluctuations, and heavy precipitation. By pushing the boundaries, they gained valuable insights into areas requiring reinforcement and adaptation leading to the final solution. 

Through their R&D claim, they received a payout of R&D tax credits based on their spending on eligible R&D costs. The government wants to encourage businesses to innovate and the tax credits function as an incentive to not be put off by the financial burden that comes with R&D projects.

Thoughts from our client

Gordon Ross, the director of EvoRevo Limited, stated: “The payout we received from the R&D tax credits for our project accelerated our confidence in what we achieved, allowing us to take Borrum much further. It’s so important that there are incentives that financially support growing renewable energy technologies because the costs of testing soon mount for businesses trying to make a positive impact. Our experience of working with Alexander Clifford to lead our R&D claim allowed us to speed up the entire process; it meant we could focus on our day-to-day objectives while our claim was made for us in  line with HMRC’s latest requirements for the reports in the claim.” 

Our experience in securing R&D tax credits for EvoRevo Ltd

Director of Alexander Clifford, Andrew Dean, describes: “The R&D claim for project Borrum stands out to us as a highlight because it shows the often unpredictable route towards advancement. The EvoRevo team had an objective and despite not having any publicly available information that would help them achieve the objective, they invested time and money to find the answer. This project opens the door for more people to make sustainable decisions that will untimely enrich the planet. It was great to get this documented in the R&D claim and it’s no surprise that it was a successful claim in the eyes of HMRC, providing a well-deserved boost reinvested into the project.”

The summary

The Borrum wind turbine project by EvoRevo Limited made possible through their dedication to innovation and supported by Alexander Clifford’s expertise in securing R&D tax credits, stands as a testament to the transformative potential of renewable energy technologies. The project addressed the challenges of traditional wind turbines by designing a portable, resilient, and agnostic-to-wind-direction turbine that not only maximises efficiency but also contributes to reducing carbon emissions. EvoRevo’s success in receiving R&D tax credits reflects the importance of financial support for ventures driving advancements past technical and scientific uncertainties in their industries.

Interested in finding out the eligibility of your R&D project?

Our client base is made up of businesses from pretty much every sector due to the broad spectrum of R&D eligibility. It’s a very inclusive incentive that accommodates a diverse range of projects that involve systematic investigation or experimentation during the development of new or improved products, processes, services or even the advancement of existing ones. Even if you didn’t reach the desired objective or you didn’t make a profit, you’re still eligible to retrieve R&D tax credits! We aim to ensure no one misses out on the incredible opportunity of R&D tax credits which is why we don’t charge anything upfront with a No-Win, No-Fee policy  Contact our specialist team to determine your reliability with the R&D tax credit scheme. If you are eligible, we can complete a claim for you in weeks!

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