Dr. Lars Hoffmann is founder and CEO of fos4X, a provider of control software and analysis to optimize the performance of wind turbines. Most solutions use fos4X’s own fiber optic sensor technology, but fos4X also offers purely digital services. Since its founding in 2012, fos4X has grown into an international company with nearly 100 employees and a clear vision:
The next wave of innovation in wind energy is driven by sensors and information. In 5 years, each new rotor blade will be equipped with several sensors that allow direct measurement of structural parameters.
On the basis of this measurement data, our software solutions (or apps) close the gap between the measurement of blade properties and customer value and thus help to improve digital transparency. In this way, we achieve optimizations such as yield increase, OPEX reduction and safety improvement.
In this way, we are driving a long overdue development, because the wind energy industry is not exactly a shining example of standardization and digitization. That’s because our industry, thanks to strong subsidies, has spent most of its time simply trying to meet the demand for turbines. Innovative technologies, mature, distributed value creation and modern business models have therefore not found their way onto the priority lists of managers in the wind industry for a long time. The biggest problem for the players in the first 20 years was to keep pace with scaling. After the complete change in tendering procedures in many countries, everything in the industry has been different for a few years now.
In recent years there have been relevant consolidations (Nordex-Acciona, Siemens-Gamesa, GE-LM, Enercon-Lagerwey, Senvion-Kenersys etc.) and production relocations as well. However, there has not yet been time for modularization and thus possible changes in the value chain and for digitization. The degree of modularization, standardization and use of common parts in both the hardware and the digital architecture of wind turbines is lagging far behind other industries. In the wind energy sector, the principles “bigger is better” and “not invented here” still count.
Paradigm shift as the key to success
At fos4X, we firmly believe that overcoming these two principles is the key to further dramatic reductions in cost of energy. The market for renewable electrical energy is already huge today and it will grow tenfold over the next 30 years with a total investment of about 10 trillion Euro. Which share wind energy gets depends on innovations like ours.