Airborne Wind Energy

by Roland Schmehl; Associate Professor of the TU Delft University; Faculty Aerospace Engineering. Wednesday 20 May 2020 – 4-5pm CET

Airborne wind energy (AWE) is the conversion of wind energy into electricity using tethered flying devices. Some concepts combine onboard wind turbines with a conducting tether, while others convert the pulling power of the flying devices on the ground. Replacing the tower of conventional wind turbines by a lightweight tether substantially reduces the material consumption and allows for continuous adjustment of the harvesting altitude to the available wind resource. The decrease in installation cost and increase in capacity factor can potentially lead to a substantial reduction of the cost of wind energy. Wind at higher altitudes is also considered to be an energy resource that has not been exploited so far. In a first part, this talk will outline the fundamental working principles and a basic theory to describe the energy harvesting performance, using this to explore some of the technology demonstrators of leading industrial players. In a second part, the widely adopted pumping AWE concept will be analyzed in more detail, both theoretically as well as experimentally, with the final goal to describe the performance of AWE systems arranged in wind parks. In a last part, current research challenges are outlined, with a focus on the activities at TU Delft.

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Roland Schmehl is Associate Professor in wind energy. He received his Ph.D. in computational fluid dynamics from Karlsruhe University in 2003 and subsequently worked as post-doctoral research fellow at the European Space Agency (ESA) on the start-up of the upper stage engine of Ariane 5. As a software architect he later developed fluid dynamic simulation methods for airbag deployment. As head of the Airborne Wind Energy Research Group, he coordinated the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Initial Training Network AWESCO (2015–2018) which addressed key challenges of AWE technologies and the H2020 “Fast Track to Innovation” project REACH (2015–2019) which commercially developed a 100 kW mobile kite power system. He currently is a Principal Investigator for TU Delft in the project NEON (2020-2023) which assesses the use of AWE technology to accelerate the energy transition in the Netherlands. He has supervised more than 60 MSc graduation projects and is currently supervising 6 PhD researchers about a broad range of AWE topics. He co-edited the textbooks “Airborne Wind Energy” published in 2013 and in 2018 by Springer and co-organised the 2015, 2017 and 2019 international Airborne Wind Energy Conferences (AWEC) in Delft, Freiburg and Glasgow, that each attracted more than 200 participants from industry and academia. He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications. He is chair of the European Academy for Wind Energy (EAWE) Technical Committee “Airborne Wind Energy”.

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