A Scottish university spin-out company is looking to raise funding to further develop rotor technology that its founders believe could open up the wind turbine market to existing manufacturers across the country.

Myriad Wind Energy Systems is in “positive conversations” with potential investors after securing a £50,000 grant from Innovate UK to advance work on its modular system, which uses 10 smaller units in place of one large rotor. Myriad says its simplified design will maximise the benefits of wind turbines by reducing manufacturing costs, increasing efficiency, and making rotor blades fully recyclable.

The company was set up last year by chief executive Adam Harris, chief technology officer Paul Pirrie and chief operating officer Peter Taylor. A graduate from the University of Strathclyde, Mr Harris is completing his PhD in magnetic gearing for renewable energy at the University of Edinburgh, while Mr Pirrie and Mr Taylor are PhDs from the engineering school at Strathclyde.

Despite suggestions that Scotland could become the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”, critics have said the number of green jobs created during the transition to net zero has fallen significantly short of projections. In addition, relatively little wind turbine fabrication takes place within the country.

Mr Harris said Myriad’s technology could change this by giving existing manufacturers from alternative sectors access to the market for making rotor blades. This is because the simplified design for its 10 metre blades do not require the scale of specialist production facilities needed to make those of 100 metres or more.

HeraldScotland: Adam Harris, chief executive of Myriad Wind SystemsAdam Harris, chief executive of Myriad Wind Systems (Image: Myriad Wind Energy)

“That makes it a lot easier to bring in people who have assets but are not necessarily working in the wind industry,” he said. “At the moment we don’t really manufacture anything in Scotland that goes into a wind turbine.”

Myriad hopes to have a prototype ready for testing at Myres Hill in East Renfrewshire by 2024 and is currently in discussions ahead of a pre-seed funding round to support this ambition. In addition to the grant from Innovate UK, the company has to date received backing from university commercialisation support service Edinburgh Innovations and £15,000 from the university’s in-house investment fund, Old College Capital.

“We are currently talking to investors and have had some very positive conversations,” Mr Harris said.

The “miniaturised” rotor design, which is based on Mr Pirrie’s PhD work, lessens the load on moving parts which means these do not have to be made out of sturdier materials such as glass fibre composites, 80 per cent of which are not recyclable and must go to landfill at the end of the typical blade’s 20-year lifespan. Myriad says its smaller blades can be produced from fully recyclable plastics, making them more environmentally sustainable.

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It has been estimated that the amount of crushed landfill waste produced when all wind turbines installed globally last year reach their end of life will fill the equivalent of 100 Olympic swimming pools.

The ability to produce components locally also cuts down on the need for massive energy-intensive plants to build ever-larger blades, and reduces the emissions created by shipping huge blades over substantial distances.

“The Innovate UK grant is a real endorsement of what we are aiming to achieve at Myriad,” Mr Harris said. “The funds will help us further progress our IP and ensure we have a proposition which can fully benefit the wider wind energy sector.

“We are grateful to Edinburgh Innovations for their advice and support which was instrumental in securing this initial grant.”

Lorna Baird, student enterprise manager at the University of Edinburgh, added: “Myriad is another great example of an EI-supported start-up business which is focused on delivering change for the wider benefit of society. The three founders have developed an innovative design solution which has the potential to be transformative in driving renewable energy production and significantly reducing landfill waste.”