Photos used with permission from Ampyx Power
Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Ireland
Replacing first generation offshore wind turbines without full replacement of existing infrastructure is an important factor in securing the position wind power has as a competitive energy source in the future. In addition to this, traditional wind generators at sea are currently limited to shallow areas which limits the potential total power generation and makes necessary scaling of wind power difficult.
This solution is a floating system that could serve the broader offshore wind market in locations where waters are too deep for the viable deployment of conventional offshore wind turbines. The solution is innovative due to a tethered drone that launches, lands and generates electricity autonomously. The system has a mass that is 90% less than conventional turbines, it is compact and easy to transport, and it takes advantage of the stronger winds found at 200+ metres altitude. This solution could be applied to areas not currently available for wind power and would also be able to replace first-generation turbines.
Ampyx Power has already tested two versions of drone aircraft at their test site in the Netherlands. The third generation is the most advanced to date. The pre-commercial certified prototype will demonstrate autonomous and safe operation. In the meantime, the design of a scaled-up certified commercial version has started. The focus is on power generation with a capacity goal of 3 MW, able to provide 3000 households with sustainable energy.
Research indicates that an airborne wind farm based on our current technology (.pdf) is technically possible and cost competitive. The figures are promising, given the fact that airborne wind energy at MW-scale is still at the very early stages of technological and commercial development. Significant cost reductions can be expected in the future. To move the technology forward to a more mature level, additional funding and strategic partners are needed. An extensive awareness campaign would be beneficial to help push the technology.