Why Kites May Have a Future in Renewable Energy Generation
By admin February 26, 2019

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New research from the University of Madrid (UC3M) is using high-altitude kites and drones in an experimental energy study. The research was recently published in Applied Mathematical Modelling and presents a flight simulator software that is aimed at analyzing energy generation systems. The study specifically researches Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES), which harness wind energy and convert it to electrical energy by attaching small wind turbines to an aircraft and transmitting the power to the ground via a cable tether. The UC3M team’s software uses this information to create fast and accurate simulations of how AWES technology will perform in any given location.

These systems have the potential to replace some traditional wind-turbine capacity, as their installation and material costs are much lower, and they operate at higher altitudes where winds are more consistent and intense. Ricardo Moreno, an aerospace engineer and researcher for UC3M, explains that this new simulator will ultimately be able to “study the behavior of [traditional] AWES, optimize their design and find the trajectories maximizing the generation of energy,” creating opportunities to bring renewable energy to remote locations easily. For this reason, the devices also have the potential to be used in emergencies, for example in the wake of a natural disaster, where energy needs to be generated in a place where fuel cannot be supplied.

The project has a number of sponsors, ranging from Google to the European Commission, and has been the subject of many UC3M students’ undergraduate and Masters’ theses in an attempt to perfect the technology. According to a recent study by the European Commission, AWES technology remains in early developmental phases, and is therefore unlikely to be commercialized any time soon. The current models in development include Google’s Makani Energy Kite, SkySails Power, and Ampyx Power, but these companies have faced criticism over the safe maintenance of the turbines, as well as the feasibility of acquiring private airspace in which to run them. There have also been questions over the relevance of their development, especially as the cost of existing renewable technologies are steadily falling.

However, this criticism further highlights the potential for the UC3M software to revolutionize the industry, as not only can it help to streamline development, but it can be freely downloaded and used for research by other teams and institutions. In fact, the technology appears to be entering the market at the right time, as The Global Wind Energy Council has reported that wind power capacity in North, Central and South America has increased by 12% in 2018. Therefore, although it is unlikely that AWES systems will fully replace conventional wind turbines, the updated technology will finally provide an alternative for those locations where wind turbines are not only impractical, but impossible to install, as well as assisting countries in meeting growing global renewable energy demands.


For more information:

A lagrangian flight simulator for airborne wind energy systems – UC3M ‘Applied Mathematical Modelling’ Paper

Kites and drones used to harness wind power could revolutionise renewable energy

Kite Power! Another Wind Energy Idea Takes Flight

Renewable energy generation with kites and drones

Software aids development of kite and drone renewable energy

Wind Power Stats Reveal 2018 Was a Huge Year, and There’s More to Come

Thanks for sharing !

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