Benefits of Airborne Wind Energy
AWE is wind 2.0
Airborne Wind Energy is about to become a game-changing solution which allows accessing the large untapped wind resource at high altitudes enabling more energy to be extracted at lower carbon intensity and eventually at lower cost.
Low material use
Replacing the tower of a wind turbine by a lightweight tether substantially reduces the material consumption by up to 90%, thus decreasing the environmental impact with regards to the carbon footprint over the life-cycle as well as reducing visual impacts.
AWE consequently applies the ‘reduce’ rule which is one of the most valuable Circular Economy options. Offering a significant mass reduction for energy generation from wind, AWE represents a step-change and fundamental re-design of wind energy technology.
Access to untapped wind resource at high altitudes
High-altitude winds are one of the largest renewable energy resources which has been untapped so far. AWE enables access to this wind potential. Increases in wind speed have a significant impact on the energy production and cost of energy.
The maps on the right show average wind speeds in Europe at typical hub height of wind turbines (left) and at variable altitude of up to 500 m (right): Conditions that are usually only available offshore become accessible also onshore with AWE.
Source: University of Bonn
In the Global Wind Atlas it is possible to choose the wind data at different altitudes up to 200m, see www.globalwindatlas.info
High capacity factor
AWE allows for continuous adjustment of the harvesting altitude to the best available wind resource. This increases the complementarity to other renewables in both stand-alone but also hybrid installations with solar PV and thus provides benefits for energy system integration.
The decrease in capital costs (CAPEX) due to low material use, the increase in capacity factor, the easier logistics and quick set-up as well as the high power density per square-kilometre can potentially lead to a substantial reduction of the levelized costs of wind energy (LCOE). The first commercial AWE systems are already today competitive in markets with diesel-based power generation. The BVGA White Paper estimates AWE to reach parity with established onshore wind by the mid 2030s.
Access to new markets
Since AWE systems are scalable from a few kilowatt to several megawatt (several companies plan to upscale to 1-3 MW devices over the next years), many markets and locations can be accessed like offshore repowering, floating offshore, mountainous and remote locations.
Potentially low environmental impact
Kites fly higher than most bird species, thus reducing the risk of collisions. As they also fly slower than the tips of a wind turbine rotates, there is a higher chance that birds can evade the kites. As high air pressure changes do not occur, bats are probably not affected. However, further research needs to be carried out on these issues.
Contact us. We are looking forward to meeting you!
Airborne Wind Europe
Avenue de la Renaissance 1
1000 Brussels, Belgium