Williams Hybrid Power, part of the Williams Group of companies from 2010 until 2014, is a primary example of Williams successfully incubating and then spinning off Formula One bred energy efficient technology.
Williams Hybrid Power was initially engaged in developing a flywheel energy storage system for Williams' 2009 Formula One car. Whilst this flywheel system was never used in Formula One, Williams' continued investing in the technology because of a strong belief in its wider commercial potential.
The technology was first validated in motorsport:
- Porsche used Williams Hybrid Power's flywheel in its GT3R endurance racing car, which won its first race in the World Endurance Championship in 2011
- Audi Sport used a Williams Hybrid Power flywheel in its 2012 and 2013 Le Mans winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro
A key market for flywheel energy storage technology is the public transport sector. This technology can save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% in a city bus for example. WHP worked with leading partners in the public transport field to test and validate the technology:
- Partnered with Go-Ahead Group to trial the system in London buses
- Partnered with the worlds largest tram manufacturer, Alstom, to develop flywheel systems for its Citadis tram fleet
With the flywheel technology successfully validated and ready for volume manufacture, Williams sold WHP to engineering company GKN in April 2014 in a multi-million pound deal. It is Williams' technological creativity and speed to market that has allowed this technology to be incubated successfully, with GKN having the resources to manufacture and market the product on a global scale.