Half-kite, half-wind, Ampyx is developing a drone generator to produce electricity

A Dutch company that develops, since 2014, a project of glider captive, whose movements relative to the wind would provide the energy. Operating at an altitude of 450 metres, where the currents are more powerful, it will have a much greater profitability than the wind classic. To the point that the German giant E. On has signed a partnership to launch a demonstrator.
The idea is not new : for find wind regimes stronger and more constant, it is necessary to leave the ground. By this means, companies are looking to develop solutions for wind turbines more efficient and profitable. But the methods diverge : Altareos Energies imagined gear inflatable and hollow, while Makani Power, and Job, Energy is looking at kites holders of the propellers. For the Dutch Ampyx, it is this time of gliders that will adopt a plan of flight 8, linked to the ground by a cable of a maximum length of 900 meters.


The project is called “Airborne Wind Energy System” to “system wind energy airborne” and is designed to capture the winds at an altitude of 465 metres. No question this time to bring the generator up in the air : what are the movements of the glider itself, which will be transmitted to the winch, via a cable to the xdr-tb of 2 cm of section, and that will generate electricity on the ground. The system, therefore, includes aircraft not flown and a foundation for ensuring the launch and recovery of the spacecraft. If the wind is too low to maintain the glider in the air, or the winds are too strong, exceeding 80 meters/second (288 km/h) may cause damage to the installation, the winch down to the ground, like a big kite.


Airborne Wind Energy System © Ampyx


The designers believe that the power unit will be 250 kW per machine and that the speed of wind ideal would be 90 km/h. The flying machine will measure 12 meters wide (for as many square meters of sail) and 5.6 metres long, but should remain light thanks to the use of composite materials. It will be coated with Teflon in order to further improve the flow of air. The fuselage double, epoxy-carbon, will weigh, for example, that 55 kg.


Machines lightweight, easy-to-deploy


Ampyx states that, in a first step, the ratio of electrical power produced per km2 of space used will be equivalent to onshore wind farms whose turbines are a power of 2 to 2.5 MW. “Once we have synchronized our system, we will be able to bring the machines between them and the energy efficiency of our parks will then become more than twice as high as wind parks classic“, they say. The cost of deployment is very small, compared to the heavy fixed installations, the foundations of which require hundreds of tons of concrete and metal : a glider represents less materials than a blade of wind.
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On aviation safety or the resistance to the lightning, the start-up Dutch to ensure that all standards will be met by their solution. And that if they have chosen a rigid machine rather than a sail which is flexible type, kite-surfing, it is due to a period of life much superior, of the order of 20 years. The arguments that convinced E. On, energy provider German, which is the second-largest manager of wind farms in the world : it has signed an agreement with Ampyx in order to develop a demonstrator in the Atlantic, in the county of Mayo (Ireland). In a press release, he explains : “This new technology has the potential to transform the market of offshore wind power, because the machines overhead and are less expensive to produce and simpler to maintain than turbines classics. In addition, they are easily deployable in areas of deep ocean, such as those that one encounters in Portugal, in Japan and in the United States“. Market potential is very promising, as the solution will compete with other technologies under development, such as the windmill hovering Minesto.


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