A possible AWE benefit: durability

I was just thinking; keeping things from breaking had always been a difficult problem for traditional wind.

With AWE, er are moving the goalposts. To be frank, AWE initially seems much less reliable than traditional wind, due to the number of moving parts.

So, if we only consider AWE wind power receiving appropriate service; eg changing wear parts like tether or a soft kite or similar.

AWE does have some benefits that could help with reliability. These may be

  • easier to add redundancy (eg vtol + sailplane flight, the option to release tethers and fly the blades themselves, redundant actuators etc). Traditional wind is simpler but adding redundancy will not help if a blade falls off
  • kites are attached by tethers. Tethers inherently provide damping so each blade is slightly decoupled from the tower
  • The kites are not passing directly in front of or in the wake of a tower
  • The AWE rig may be packed down automatically in extreme weather

Maybe these will offset other added complexity. I would not rule out that mature AWE could achieve higher robustness than traditional wind

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I would like to add a new possible benefit: noise. There are quite a few aspects to this.

As we are generating at higher altitude, the distance to observers is larger. 6 dB per doubling of distance. I see some recommendations that windmills are placed 300 m from houses. AWE rigs may at huge scale fly at more than 600 m altitude which would mean at least that 6 dB reduction. Of course a complicating matter could be that the kite could move around a lot drpending on wind direction, thus making noise enission targets more difficult to attain.

This effect could allow AWE rigs to use a higher C_L/C_D compared to the windmill TSR.

On the opposite end, AWE rigs could be made to run slower than windmills due to the ease of which you can sweep a larger area. Lower speeds inherently give lower noise.

On the other hand, tether noise seems an unsolved issue… If unchecked, noise constraints could limit AWE in general to only fly at low speeds, which again would be a bummer. Theres always remote locations though :stuck_out_tongue: