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Success of the Webinar “Advances in Airborne Wind Energy: Exploring Opportunities in Spain and Internationally” and “Presentation of an AWE Kite at UC3M Campus in Leganés”

Airborne Wind Europe, CT Ingenieros, and Carlos III University of Madrid celebrated the success and reception of the webinar “Advances in Airborne Wind Energy” held past Wednesday, April 3, from 9:30 to 10:30. Conducted entirely in Spanish, this virtual event brought together leading experts from the sector to discuss innovations and opportunities in the field of Airborne Wind Energy.

The webinar started with a presentation by Kristian Petrick, Secretary General of Airborne Wind Europe, who provided a brief introduction to AWES and highlighted the latest international advances. During his presentation, Petrick pointed out that, through the Airborne Wind Europe association, which has 20 members committed to the research and commercialization of AWE, efforts are being made to establish a regulatory and political framework for this technology in the EU and Member States, as well as its inclusion in the different NECPs.

As a peak of his presentation, Petrick emphasized the importance of AWE advantages, such as “low environmental impact and carbon footprint” by replacing the tower and blades of a conventional wind turbine for a kite that “can reduce material consumption by up to 90%, representing a significant shift towards sustainability in the energy industry,” he indicated.

Petrick also highlighted how “AWE technology can harness untapped wind resources at high altitudes, offering new opportunities for renewable energy generation.” Maps presented during the webinar showed how wind speeds at heights above 500m can be accessible thanks to AWE technology.

During the event, different types of AWE devices were mentioned, from the use of flexible wings to fixed wings, as well as onshore power generation.

Additionally, real and concrete examples of commercial enclaves and AWE test sites were underscored, such as the device that the German company SkySails has connected to the grid in Mauritius and the flight tests they are carrying out in Klixbüll (Germany).

The first externally validated power curve was highlighted as a recent achievement, presented for the first time at the end of March, as the latest evidence that AWE is becoming a viable reality in many markets such as islands, rural areas, or construction sites. The new test site established by RWE and the Dutch company Kitepower in County Mayo (Ireland) was also showcased.

Agustín Arjonilla, Senior Consultant at The CT Engineering Group, emphasized the strategic importance of AWE for Spain, especially in regions with low population density “where land availability is crucial.” He also pointed out Galicia, Castilla León, and the Canary Islands, among others, as territories with high AWE generation potential. He outlined short, medium, and long-term strategies to maximize AWE potential in Spain, including “the creation of up to 20,000 jobs and significant export opportunities.”

Regarding the European AWE Industry Center of Excellence in La Gomera, Arjonilla recalled that the island institution, Airborne Wind Europe, and Proexca recently signed an agreement that will allow long-term tests of AWE systems of up to 100 and 500 kW in a site considered a unique world infrastructure in the field of aeronautical design and renewable energy generation. This location is expected to contribute to the creation of quality research jobs and could cover up to 10% of La Gomera’s current energy needs.

To conclude the webinar, Gonzalo Sánchez-Arriaga and David Santos Martín, professors at Carlos III University of Madrid, highlighted UC3M’s potential in developing innovative technologies like AWE through the presentation of the first “yo-yo” system developed in Spain by the UC3M and The CT Engineering Group, which “a few months ago achieved autonomous flight,” said Sánchez-Arriaga. Furthermore, UC3M underscored its readiness to host AWEC 2024 from April 24 to 26, showcasing Spain’s commitment to AWE development.

During the Q&A session, the transformative role of AWE in decarbonization and its complementary role in the renewable landscape were highlighted, underlining its potential to provide clean and immediate energy “within half an hour,” as Arjonilla pointed out, with the aim of supplying populations in emergencies and natural disasters, providing light to remote communities and islands, and, in the future, doing all this “at a much cheaper price than any other renewable” because “where a wind turbine cannot be placed, an AWE can be.”

Additionally, the next day, on Thursday, April 4, at the Leganés Campus of Carlos III University of Madrid, from 10:00 to 14:00, the presentation of a 40 m2 Airborne Wind Energy kite developed by the Dutch start-up Kitepower took place, alongside significant advancements in the field of AWE.

The event, jointly organised by Carlos III University of Madrid and The CT Engineering Group in collaboration with Airborne Wind Europe, was attended by prominent experts in the Airborne Wind Energy field, who shared valuable insights and perspectives on this innovative clean energy with the presence of the 40m2 kite in the central square of the Campus.

Among the participants, were, Gonzalo Sánchez Arriaga and David Santos Martín, Professors at UC3M, Agustín Arjonilla, Senior Consultant at The CT Engineering Group, and Kristian Petrick, Secretary General of Airborne Wind Europe. They were all available for interviews to explain the impact and advantages of AWE at both national and international levels.

This event not only attracted experts in the field but also individuals directly related to the rise and implementation of AWE in Spain, such as Ignacio Cruz from CIEMAT and Jerónimo Falcón from Proexca. Moreover, the presence throughout the day of students and professors interested in understanding how it worked and the advantages of AWE, underscored the interest and potential of this technology in the current energy landscape.

The success of the event is reflected in its warm reception by attendees and the media who showed up in Leganés, demonstrating the growing importance of AWE as a way to generate clean and immediate energy.

The next meeting will be at the Airborne Wind Energy Conference (AWEC 2024), to be held from April 24 to 26 at the Puerta de Toledo Campus of Carlos III University of Madrid.

We look forward to seeing you there!