Interview with Ward Thomas, Sentient Science
For our Top 100 Power People 2017 report, A Word About Wind editor Richard Heap spoke exclusively to Ward Thomas, CEO of report sponsor Sentient Science, about big data and key technology trends. Here are some highlights. If you'd like to read the full interview, it's also included in our complimentary ebook, 5 Lessons in the North American Wind Business, downloadable here.
The publication this week of the Top 100 Power People has already provided some great talking points within the industry. As well as being the definitive guide to the most influential people in wind energy, the report provides an overview of the year's most important trends, such as the rapidly-falling costs of offshore wind and the emergence of floating turbine technology. It also contains a series of big interviews. Here are some key take-home points from our conversation with Sentient Science's President and CEO, Ward Thomas:
- Materials science could help make wind 13% cheaper. Thomas outlined how Sentient Science's prognostic models combine data science and materials science to provide accurate predictions of when and where failures will occur within turbines. For example, they are currently providing savings equal to 2% - 3% of revenue by focusing on gearboxes specifically: this represents a fifth of the predicted savings that will come from applying the technology to the complete turbine.
- Wind is the ideal starting point for commercialising this technology. This is the first commercial application of technology originally developed in the aerospace sector, whilst Sentient Science worked with the U.S. Department of Defense. Wind represented an an exciting opportunity to apply its approach to live machines. "Once we got into wind, we fell in love with it. To lower the cost of energy so our children can breathe clean air, and to make it equal to fossil fuels. We're very proud to be doing our bit," said Thomas.
- President Trump may have had an unexpectedly positive effect on wind energy. Despite Donald Trump's well-known scepticism towards renewables, the US wind sector has gone from strength to strength this year. Thomas said Trump's unwillingness to harm the wind sector may be an acknowledgement of the need for competitively-priced renewables: "He knows we need to produce a whole bunch of electricity for manufacturing to come back to the United States," he said.
If you would like to read the complete interview, members can read the full report here. Not yet a member? You can look at membership options here, or sign up for a free trial of our newsletter in order to be in with a chance of receiving one of 15 complimentary copies.