About Airborne Wind Energy

AWES: electricity generation in the air (first picture) and on the ground (pumping mode, second and third picture)

Airborne Wind Energy is a wind energy technology that is based on flying blades or wings attached to the ground by a thether. Two main principles exist how the wind energy can be turned into electricty. Either by mini wind turbines and generators mounted on the flying wing (first picture) or by having the wing pull on the tether and having the tether unwind from a drum on the ground, which is driving the generator (second picture). This ground generation method requires reeling the tether back in (third picture), which leads to a pumping or yoyo motion.

Advantages of AWE

AWE promises to have to main advantages. First, the construction is very light and saves about 90% of the materials needed to build a wind turbines of comparable size. Especially the large structural elements foundation, tower and rotor blades are replaces by much lighter foundations, due to the lack of bending moments, a light tether and very wings.

The construction also allows AWES to operate at high altitudes of 500 meters and above. Here the wind is stronger and steadier than at lower altitudes. AWES can also alter their operating altitude, they can therefore always fly at the altitude were the wind is strongest at a certain point in time, which further increases steady energy production.

Comparison of wind speeds at 500m altitude (left pictude) and at 100m altitude (right picture) drag with mouse to view both pictures. Data: ERA5 reanalysis, find more information on wind ressource: here