How this Turkish startup optimizes wind energy plants’ production

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Green energy is developing towards a mainstream, competitive, and reliable technology. Governments around the globe are investing big capitals in various green energy production plants, including solar, hydro, and wind energy.

Turkey has 152 operating power plants, Izmir and Balikesir having the highest percentage.

Though new global investment in clean energy fell to $287.5 billion in 2016, 18 percent lower than the record investment of $348.5 billion in 2015, the whole ecosystem is still rewarding. Wind energy is even growing stronger on yearly basis. The worldwide wind capacity nearly reached 487,000 MW by the end of 2016, out of which 54,800 MW were added in 2016, growing by 12 percent year on year.

Turkey has 152 operating power plants, Izmir and Balikesir having the highest percentage. Additional power plants, 35 in total, are currently under construction. The country’s cumulative power plants installations in 2016 reached over 6,000 MW, growing from only 146 MW in 2007.

Turkey is among the top 10 new installed capacity (Image via GWEC).

Turkey is among the world’s Top 10 countries with newly installed wind power capacity. This has driven Fatih Ertinaz, a Turkish engineer specialized in scientific software development, to launch Hypercfd in 2013. The company is focused on fluid mechanics, wind flow applications and analysis around complex and solid terrains. “Our software offers a forecast of the best locations to establish wind energy farms, away from turbulence that shrinks the performance of wind turbines,” he told Wamda. The software Hypercfd launched simulates the wind flow in complex terrains and tries to give a projection of what would be the best locations to install energy producing turbines in order to reach a higher electricity production capacity.

Funding

Hypercfd received a grant of 100,000 Turkish lira (around US$45,000 back then in 2015) from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tübitak) to start developing its software in 2015. Tübitak granted Ertinaz additional 200,000 liras (around US$60,000) to develop the product further. Last year, the team consisted of three people, but by the end of the grant, Ertinaz had to outsource rather than hiring.

Altering the vision

Initially catering to potential wind farms, Ertinaz last year saw that it was going to be too competitive and so altered his company’s vision and amended the software to cater to a new market. Rather than selling to new wind farms, they started selling to already operating ones, providing them with production forecasts. He explained: “If you have for example a wind farm with 25 turbines, and you would like to know how much electricity will you be able to produce, our software will assist you.”

A few foreign companies already offer similar services in the Turkish market, including Meteologica from Spain. “What makes us standout is the fact that others base their forecast on algorithms, and find correlation between historical data and power production. This is fast, but less accurate than the forecasts we do.”

Cost and potential markets

Fatih Ertinaz, founder of Hypercfd. (Image via Fatih Ertinaz).

Hypercfd hasn’t yet sold its software, but it is working with several wind farms to validate its results. “We started testing in a farm in middle Turkey and we signed non-disclosure agreements with two Turkish companies,” he said.

To move the project to the next level, the startup is closely working with GE through their platform Predix to develop the software’s features and efficiency. An additional $100,000 are needed to build the team and reach out foreign markets.

“Since we started developing the startup with a grant, I was not keen on angel investors, neither on any type of third party funding. Rather than looking to raise money, I was seeking potential clients,” he said.

The pricing model varies from one country to another, then on the size of the farm, for example a starting price could be $4,000 for a 200 MW output. These prices cover the annual subscription to Hypercfd’s cloud service, in addition to the technical support for the made forecasts.

Ertinaz said he needs to sell his software to at least 50 farms to break even. The farm’s production capacity should not be less than 1 MW to use the software. Their plans are to sell in Poland, Romania, and Germany.

Outlook

“Wind power is now successfully competing with heavily subsidized incumbents across the globe, building new industries, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and leading the way towards a clean energy future,” said Global Wind Energy Council secretary general Steve Sawyer while announcing the Global Wind Report in April 2017, in Delhi.  

Wind power penetration levels continue to increase, led by Denmark, followed by Uruguay, Portugal and Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, and Germany. The big markets of China, the US and Canada get 4, 5.5, and 6 percent of their power from wind, respectively. The MENA region is also on the right track embracing this technology. A recent study led by the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi indicated using wind energy rather than fossil fuel to power a desalination plant could cut the cost of producing fresh water in the country. Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions.

The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) launched The National Renewable Energy Action Plan for the Republic of Lebanon 2016-2020 which is a road map aiming to secure 12 percent of Lebanon’s electricity needs by the year 2020.

Egypt’s $796 million wind power development project, supported by the World Bank, is about to finalize developing transmission infrastructure and business models for scaling-up wind power in Egypt.

Two wind power plants with a total capacity of 100 MW will be ready and connected to the grid in Jordan by 2019, with an investment of over $200 million.

Saudi Arabia is also trying to build 10 GW renewable energy farms by 2030. According to Ertinaz, softwares such as his could assist in such projects developments, helping governments build more efficient wind farms.

Feature images via Pixabay

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