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Ishan Pandey: Hi Taras, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Sirocco Energy?
Taras Vodyanyy: My name is Taras Vodyanny.
My degree is in engineering. While still a student, I met Oleksandr Pryimak, our co-founder and CTO. He was constantly improving things. Anything that fell into his hands became better.
After graduating from university, I got into business and marketing, and Olexander started working in a company that produces traditional wind turbines. Of course, he just started to improve everything he saw there.
A few years later, he came to me with a brand new idea for a wind turbine.
He said traditional windmills have a number of shortcomings (noise, vibration, price etc.) that can be addressed by changing the design.
I liked the idea and we started working together. We went to several startup competitions and received lots of positive feedback and interest to validate the concept.
There we met Anna Pryimak and in 2017, we co-founded Sirocco Energy. Since then, we have made many prototypes, raised several rounds of funding from startup accelerators, angel investors and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
We also made a million mistakes but created the world’s most efficient wind turbine for the cities.
Buildings in urban and suburban areas direct wind in a variety of directions. This can be a major hurdle for placing wind generators designed for commercial objects and private houses in urban and suburban areas.
What measures can be adopted to address and overcome this issue?
Taras Vodyanyy: We designed our turbines exactly with this thought in mind.
Three key features ensure high turbine responsiveness towards changes in the wind speed or direction. First is low blade weight, which gives them low inertia.
Second - high blade density. Both of these features let the turbine react fast to the wind speed change, adapt and utilize wind flow in the most efficient way.
The third feature is connected with the wind tracking system. The turbines have 360-degree rotation ability. Moreover, we will give users a unique opportunity to personally choose the level of the turbine’s agility - how often the system will check on the current wind direction and turn itself to the most efficient position.
This is a truly incredible combination no other turbine has, giving us the confidence to enter this market.
Ishan Pandey: There is a sudden shift in the energy industry, rushing towards energy transition, discarding fossil fuels left and right. According to you, is wind energy sustainable and what is going to be its future?
Taras Vodyanyy: It sure is! The wind market has almost quadrupled in size over the past decade and proved itself to be one of the most cost-competitive and resilient power sources.
Nevertheless, current usage is quite limited by installment conditions (mostly fields or offshore). So new solutions are definitely needed to widen the possibilities for green energy generation, especially on-site solutions to cut costs on transmission. We are glad to be one of them and open new doors for market growth.
Ishan Pandey: Entities with ties to offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Guernsey, and Jersey hold nearly three-quarters of Scotland’s largest wind farms.
Thus, from a regulatory standpoint, what reforms do we need in the sector to manage better such tax evasion, which is wiping off millions of dollars worth of public service?
Taras Vodyanyy: Yes, you’re right. Furthermore, that is really a big problem. Taxes are one of the key ways to finance an industrial strategy.
This is necessary for the development of the renewable energy supply chain. We must understand that tax avoidance undermines the entire sector.
One of the main arguments put forward by companies in defence of the use of tax havens is the desire to provide investors with a profitable and safe tax environment.
Balancing the need for external investment to get projects going and community ownership is a big challenge. Nevertheless, it can also be solved through local investment programs.
Ishan Pandey: Concerns about petroleum pricing, as well as the effects of burning fossil fuels on the environment and weather, have prompted a significant increase in wind power generation since then.
In this regard, what technological advances and innovations do we need to lower wind turbine operating costs in order to move towards a cleaner and greener world?
Taras Vodyanyy: To answer this question, we need to analyze the following:
1) “What are the most expensive elements of a wind turbine?”
2) “What are the highest costs connected with wind turbines?”
I’m going to talk about classical turbines now. Those elements would be: the gearbox and the blades. The highest costs are installation and repairs. If a conventional wind generator needs to replace one of the main-shaft bearings, it won’t ever be able to become profitable.
Ishan Pandey: China recently launched its flagship floating wind turbine, which will now be under trial for the next six months. Do you think this will be the beginning of an offshore energy revolution across the globe?
Taras Vodyanyy: Not sure about the world, but definitely for China, as they are planning to install 40 GW by 2022.
Though the UK is currently the world’s offshore wind leader, it seems like this will change quite soon. There are some crucial issues with the offshore wind that need to be solved to make it available worldwide: all related costs are extremely expensive: installation, maintenance, transmission; corrosion, fatigue, erosion, lightning strikes and biofouling causing lots of troubles; plus they affect marine animals and birds.
Nevertheless, it’s absolutely clear that we need new ways and new locations to use for clean energy generation.
Space is valuable and expensive. Moreover, traditional wind turbines require a lot of space. That is one of the reasons we created our wind turbine - to open new opportunities to produce green energy in new locations, where it was not possible before.
With less required space, more comfort and a lower price, this is a logical solution. Especially where the energy is needed the most - in urban and suburban areas.
Ishan Pandey: Ardian SAS, a French private equity firm, is exploring the idea of raising up to $2.4 billion for a green hydrogen fund, one of the primary fuels involved in the energy transition. Do you think this move could lead to decarbonizing major industrial processes and be a revolutionary change within the sector?
Taras Vodyanyy: I love the idea and hope it is going to happen.
As Europe has quite ambitious plans to reach a 100% renewable energy supply by 2040, it will definitely speed up the process of this transition.
Governments all over the world are investing in green hydrogen technology development, including the US - The Department of Energy is putting up to $100 million for the matter.
The technology has amazing potential as its only by-product is water.
Green hydrogen can be used for nearly impossible industries to decarbonize in other ways like aviation, shipping, concrete and steel manufacturing, long-distance trucking. So I’m really looking forward to the technology development and we are definitely up to participating and using clean energy generated by turbines to produce green hydrogen.
Ishan Pandey: As a result of large-scale lockdowns, the world has come to a halt, especially in the past two years and with it, the industries that supported our once unstoppable activities came to a halt as well. Do you think the pandemic has long-term consequences for the energy sector?
Taras Vodyanyy: COVID-19 brought a significant decline in electricity production from fossil fuels, while renewable power is going up.
We actually had a record number of 93 GW for the global wind power industry in 2020. Renewable energy is becoming more cost-efficient and cheaper year to year. Plus, it’s generated locally.
This certainly gives more independence and security to each country, which becomes even more relevant in new conditions. So the pandemic actually accelerated our transition to a clean energy world and I’m sure it will last.
Ishan Pandey: What does the roadmap ahead look like for the entire energy industry as a whole, especially in the post-pandemic era?
Taras Vodyanyy: I would say it’s three key trends, which define this roadmap: decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization. People care more about their health, they want to count more on themselves and they want the convenience of the experience.
That’s why technology is so relevant. Just generate and use your own energy, track it on your smartphone and enjoy zero emissions.
We keep working on technology development and broadening market opportunities. One of the amazing features of the Sirocco turbines is the fact that it bypasses the cubic law valid for a conventional turbine - weight and cost scales with the radius*3 while energy production scales with the radius*2.
This is our unique design that made it possible. The scaling potential for the turbine is incredible. This is just the beginning!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence by asking the right questions and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions. The material does not constitute any investment, financial, or legal advice. Please do your research before investing in any digital assets or tokens, etc. The writer does not have any vested interest in the company. Ishan Pandey.
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