Ampyx Power Taking First Steps Towards MW-Scale Kite

Ampyx Power has partnered with DSM to develop a tether for its Airborne Wind Energy System (AWES) that is sized to generate a capacity of up to 2MW.

Topconsortium Kennis en Innovatie op Zee (TKIWoZ) has granted a subsidy for the project, which includes both developing the mathematical models needed to design and test optimized AWES tethers and building a test setup for scaling up tethers for the megawatt-scale application.

The tether will be made with DSM's Dyneema fiber and will be designed, built and tested in a setup that mimics a realistic operational environment, DSM said.

Until the commercial release, Ampyx Power will be working on a smaller scale prototype of AWES, using a different type of Dyneema tether with less demanding requirements.

The prototype is expected to fly at a test site in Ireland next year, when the Dutch company will test the technologies, architecture, organization, and processes for the future commercial product.

According to DSM, this is the first time a tether will be developed and tested at a multi-megawatt scale for the system.

The initial commercial AWES will repower the first generation of offshore wind farms and is said to be able to extend their lifetimes by retaining the foundations and infrastructure and adding a platform to launch and land a tethered aircraft.

Once launched, the kites will fly at a height of between 200m and 450m, beyond the reach of current turbines, DSM said, emphasizing that in the future the technology will be applicable on offshore floating platforms.

The AWES design includes a tether that connects the aircraft to a generator on the ground. As the aircraft moves, it pulls the tether from a drum, which drives the generator. When the tether has been fully reeled out, about 750m, the kite automatically descends, the tether reels in and the kite then climbs again and repeats the process.