Sustainability is more than just a buzzword, it’s imperative we embrace it as a key philosophy if we are to give future generations the same opportunities as those that have gone before.
Entrepreneurs often see the world in a different way to other people and Fiona Lindsay, Director at ReBlade Limited, is no different. Wind turbines are made of materials that are complicated to recycle or break-down and thousands of blades and GRP nacelles will be decommissioned before the end of the decade. ReBlade Limited have a mission to pioneer in the delivery of Circular Economy reuse by recycling and repurposing decommissioned assets in the Renewables sector.
Here, Fiona tells us a bit about her business, where she came from, and how BIPC Glasgow helped support them.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your business is?
I started my career in the construction industry having graduated from the University of Glasgow with an Earth Science degree, so rocks and geology and environmental conservation were my areas of interest initially. In 2008, during the global financial crisis when the construction industry was impacted badly, I moved from construction to renewables where I began a career in developing renewable energy infrastructure for a large utility. I spent 13 years building up skills and expertise in the planning and design of commercial scale windfarms. I met my husband, Steven, during this time, who also worked in renewables, and went on to get married and have two children.
Steven’s renewables experience is particularly focussed on windfarm operational repair and maintenance, amongst other things, and lends itself well to technical innovations. We were always aware of the potential to blend our skills together to form a unique business model and were waiting for the right time to launch as our children began to grow up and allow us a little more freedom. As covid impacted in 2020, like many people, we took the opportunity to re-evaluate our personal priorities and took the made to create ReBlade Limited.
What was the inspiration for your business idea?
ReBlade was borne out of an awareness that the renewables industry is in clear need of a sustainable solution to its glass reinforced fibre waste derived from decommissioned turbine blades. In 2015 Steven created the UK’s first blade decommissioning process that did not involve landfill. Back then we recognised a sustainable model was needed, and that was the initial inspiration for the ReBlade business model that we have created.
How did you come up with the idea - was it solving a problem/need. Did you spot a gap in the market? Were you looking to change career/long held ambition? Or did circumstances over the last 18 months give you the impetus you needed?
All of the above! Sustainability and green credentials sit at the core of who we are, not only as a business, but as a family, as parents and as environmentalists and custodians of our children’s futures. Covid-19 struck at a time when the world was on the brink of enormous change. Its impact forced us to reflect seriously on what truly matters in life. During lockdown we all had the chance to stop and ask ourselves “what can we do?” It was clear then that Steven and I were on a journey of change, and we haven’t looked back since!
What BIPC services or activities did you use? Did you find anything in particular useful? How did the services support you/ help develop your business idea?
We encountered BIPC through a Business Gateway webinar on the matter of Intellectual Property. Until then, we were unaware of the wealth of great services available to us, especially during lockdown, through the BIPC. We were quickly offered further support in the form of accountancy advice and digital marketing with direct access to industry experts. The follow-up interest in our business activities has made us feel very supported of which I’m very grateful for.
Starting out in business for the first time can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable at times, especially given the restrictions that have been in place over that past 18 months. It’s great to know these services exist relatively un-interrupted, and to know that other businesses will be benefitting from them too.
What are your plans for the future (short/medium/long term)?
ReBlade is rooted in and has been inspired by Scotland's economic commitment to circular and net-zero approaches to economic growth and we’re very keen to develop localised supply chains and green job creation by looking to develop a complete wind farm-derived circular waste decommissioning service.
We have an ambitious expansion plan that reflects the demand we expect from the industry over the coming months and years as older first-generation windfarms decommission in favour of larger repowered turbines.
Currently, the business is focussed on repurposing waste glass reinforced fibre materials into new, useful, second-life products such as bike shelters, podiums and recreational outdoor facilities like play parks. However, given the significant numbers of blades destined for decommissioning between now and the end of the decade, our focus is on research and development to design processes and products that can scale to meet the industry's rapidly growing blade disposal needs.
To find out more about ReBlade limited, visit https://reblade.co.uk/