German energy company RWE Renewables has signed a collaboration agreement with SkySails Power to harness high-altitude winds with a kite-powered generator.
The two companies plan to fly a 120m² kite to a height of approximately 400m above ground to generate electricity. The kite pulls rope from the winch during its ascent in a controlled trajectory. Electricity will be produced by the built-in generator from the rotational energy.
The available airborne wind systems have a maximum capacity of 100kW to 200kW, at present.
RWE Renewables Europe & Asia-Pacific wind onshore and photovoltaic COO Katja Wünschel said: “I am delighted that we are putting this innovative, environmentally friendly technology into operation for the first time.
“It has the potential for onshore as well as offshore use and to complement conventional wind power turbines in this way.”
For this three-year pilot project, RWE will purchase an airborne wind energy system with an output of up to 200kW from SkySails Power. RWE will operate the system and evaluate the technology during the project.
The company is currently looking for a suitable location in Germany for carrying out this project.
The airborne wind energy system has been designed to harness winds at a higher altitude than wind turbines can generally reach. SkySails Power system features a ground station consisting of a winch with an integrated generator.
Future technological advancements are expected to increase the output from kW to MW, for use in large wind farms. SkySails is already working towards the development of such a large-scale system.
SkySails Power CEO Stephan Wrage said: “The light compact design of airborne wind energy systems means that the impact on people and the environment is minimal.
“The systems work very quietly, practically have no visible effect on the landscape and barely cast a shadow.”