RWE has received approval to build a test center in County Mayo, Ireland, to explore the potential of airborne wind energy (AWE) technology. The testing facility will be delivered in partnership with Dutch company Ampyx Power. RWE will also test systems from other AWE developers during the test center’s eight-year operational life.
Airborne Wind Energy Systems harness the strong and steady winds at altitudes greater than several hundred metres, and with reduced infrastructure costs. Current demonstration models have an output power between 100 and 200 kW. By further developing this technology, the potential output can be increased to megawatts, making it attractive for use in large wind farms.
Ampyx Power supplies the first airborne wind system to the test site. The system consists of a ground-based winch generator, a launch and land platform, and small, aircraft-shaped device. The device, which has a 12-metre (about 40 feet) wingspan, is connected to the generator by an ultra-strong tether. It draws the tether from the winch and produces electricity by acting against the resistance of the built-in generator. Once the tether is fully extended, the device glides back towards the winch, as the tether is reeled back in. Retrieving the tether requires just a fraction of the electricity generated, resulting in net power production. This cycle is performed repeatedly, producing clean, low-cost electricity.
The RWE test site will initially test, verify and demonstrate a 150 kilowatt (kW) prototype. Later followed by a larger commercial scale 1 megawatt (MW) system.
Fabrizio Nastri, CEO of Ampyx Power said: “After 12 years of hard work and multiple generations of smaller prototypes, we are excited to start operating our technology demonstrator on a 150 kW scale in Ireland in a real operational environment. The collaboration with RWE and incorporating their vast experience of wind energy into in our product design is a big step toward commercialising our technology.”
Katja Wünschel, COO Wind Onshore & Photovoltaic Europe & Asia-Pacific, RWE Renewables: “The launch of an airborne wind testing site in Ireland is an early move for RWE into a new technology to generate green electricity. Our demonstration project will give us the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the technology being developed and to build valuable relationships with the pioneers and innovators of airborne wind.“
Interreg North-West Europe funding program
RWE’s test centre is supported by the Interreg North-West Europe funding program, which was set up by the EU. Its MegaAWE project, of which RWE and Ampyx are partners, was set up to support technology development and commercialization within the airborne wind energy sector. Source: RWE