Rod, I urge you to put aside the worry by using reels, winches, drums, trucks, or platforms when such is right for any particular AWES design! The topic invites a look into installations where those items might be set aside by design. So, use those items when wanted. Don’t use those items when not wanted.
Now that we might be at ease, the topic may unfold as posters will. The topic may enter all scales. Exploring might come upon some practical gems.
Some history? Kite festivals regularly have kite systems with sand-anchor main tethers; stowed lines are let out and fitted with line laundry and lifter. Flight occurs; wind energy is harvested to perform the good works desired; nothing in such would stop the system from holding a flygen and produce electricity.
Notice that the sport of kiteboarding has the common fixed-length main tethers. And it has been described how the board may feature a hydroturbine for generating electricity when underway for possible use in communications or the like.
Pausing for a moment on Makani Power at-sea. Thought experiment: Have buoy anchor but do away with the reeling sub-assembly; have the wing in far-field downwind on a barge positioned at length by submerged stay lines to seabed or to the anchor system of the cooperating anchor buoy. Connect the main tether to the anchor buoy and to the wing. Begin when wanted; Drone power will be just vertical alone a spherical arc at tether radius; drone energy expended will be much less than the energy used in the system that they used during the sea trial required drone powering while their main tether was let out to length. Fly the wing; generate power; when landing use less drone energy to land on the farfield landing platform. Do away with the farm’s many reels. Option in this thought experiment could be analyzed. This thought experiment is just a beginning.
One kind of on-topic input could be descriptions when AWE experimenters have opted to do without winching, reeling, drumming, trucks, platforms for anchor assemblies in their AWES. Daisy, Flygen, Mothra, KiteMill, Makani, …?
On many of my arch rigs, I set two earthed soft sand anchors with fixed-length arch line wing assemblies. At farfield center of wing assembly flight is initiated by flying center resulting in cascaded lift of the full arch. This has been done for tiny arches and also larger arches. The anchors are sometimes moved during flight to explore arch shape and orientation to the wind. Scene here fits present topic.
A particular AWES simply might not need operational winching, reeling, drumming, trucks, or platforms for anchoring.
During AWES experimental periods, a development team might want to save the cost of winching or reeling or use of trucks or platforms; they might be able to simply use safelty-margined earth anchors and main tethers.
Notice that main tether may be adjusted for length in some circumstances without use of the topic’s sans devices. Exploring such length adjustment methods could certainly be part of this topic.
Farming a unit AWES saving on anchor assemblies could make or break an effort.