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The 10th edition of the Airborne Wind Energy Conference (AWEC 2024) was held at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid from the 24th to the 26th of April 2024. Over 180 key actors from more than 23 countries gathered to debate challenges and opportunities in the pursuit of the launch of Airborne technologies. Attendees included scientists and engineers, professors and students, entrepreneurs and investors, who convened to share their experiences, findings, opportunities and visions for Airborne Wind Energy.

One of the several AWEC 2024 panel discussions

The AWEC 2024 event took place at the Campus Puerta de Toledo of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. A meeting that featured “participation from representatives of 23 countries and an attendance of over 180 people, making it a key meeting point for researchers, developers, investors, stakeholders, and actors in the Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) sector,” as noted by Kristian Petrick, Secretary General of Airborne Wind Europe. Gonzalo Sánchez Arriaga, a professor at UC3M and co-organizer of the Conference, added that “for UC3M, it has been an honor to host AWEC 2024 since, as seen during the event, AWE technology is entering a new phase in terms of technological and regulatory maturity.”

This progress was tangible from the first day of the Conference through the presentation of the AWEC 2024 Book of Abstracts. It is a compilation of all presentations made by technology developers, universities, and providers in a single volume. There was also time for the first meetings within the IEA Wind Task 48 to commence. This is a global platform among 11 countries, including Spain, which facilitates the exchange of ideas, experiences, and techniques to continue developing Airborne Wind Energy as an innovative solution that promotes a greener future.

The second day was filled with exciting discussions through panels and interventions by prominent speakers. Cristina Trueba Alonso, responsible for sectoral policies at the General Secretariat of Innovation of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, inaugurated the day as a guest of the Government of Spain. Among others, noteworthy was the presentation by Sarah Barber, Programme Leader in Wind Energy for OST, as well as David Lecoque, CEO of the Alliance for Rural Electrification, a global business association for distributed renewables in emerging markets, rural areas, and off-grid applications.

David Lecoque, CEO of Alliance for Rural Electrifications

In addition to the above, all leading scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs in the emerging field of Airborne Wind Energy also presented their latest findings and achievements in this field, which is coming up as a key solution in the sector of renewable energies in Spain. One of the highlights was the successful presentation by the German company SkySails, which validated the world’s first performance curve of a 120 kW AWE system, consolidating its position as a leader in the use of this innovative technology.

SkySails power curve

Exhibition of a real 40m2 kite from the Dutch company Kitepower as well as the fully Spanish AWE system developed by UC3M and CT Ingenieros.

Attendees also had the opportunity to firsthand see the 40m2 kite from Kitepower throughout the day at the entrance of the Campus, along with the first fully Spanish AWE machine developed by CT Ingenieros (one of the official sponsors of the Conference) and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. “For CT Ingenieros, assembling the new prototype of the first 100% Spanish machine of 20 kW has been a challenge, working on last-minute changes to make the La Gomera AWES Center of Excellence (Canary Islands) the first AWES farm to accommodate the future generation of machines with cables of up to 1.5 km in length and 500 kW of generation,” underscored Agustín Arjonilla, Senior Consultant of CT Ingenieros.

40 m2 Kitepower kite and the Spanish AWE system

Continuing with the program, the third and final day began with a presentation by Cristina Archer from the University of Delaware, who organized the first AWEC in 2009 in Chico, California. It was a very inspiring talk that set the stage for the exciting news that came up that day within the renewable energy field: the entire AWE sector celebrated the inclusion of Airborne Wind Energy in Germany’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG). This marks a significant step for the industry, unlocking new opportunities for innovation and sustainability, with a specific tariff for AWE of around 11 euro cents per kWh. Although this tariff is too low to cover current costs, it is an important milestone globally.

The much-awaited political support for AWE has become a reality, providing specific remuneration that reduces market risks and encourages investment in high-tech companies. This achievement paves the way for other European countries to adopt more concrete and effective regulations for the implementation of Airborne Wind Energy.

The event concluded with Dr. Roland Schmehl, considered one of the greatest experts in this technology and one of the architects of the Conference, stating that “this year marks 10 years for the conference, and it is extraordinary to see how the community continues to grow.” Alongside the closing words and gratitude, it was time to award the winner of the poster competition. The first place went to Iván Castro Fernández from Andalucía for his work on “Analysis of fluid-structure interaction of a rigid delta kite for Airborne Wind Energy.”

We thank all participants for attending the event and look forward to seeing you in 2026 at the next venue, still to be confirmed.

Have a look also at the summary of the Conference