Hope for all at Ampyx that they and the AP3 get through this test.
Despite financial hard times, still making great progress. Here’s a 2 minute video with the current state of the AP-3 prototype. In this video the aircraft seems a bit drunk, as we were testing respons to steering commands
Fine with all the AWE
FFS though - working with RWE we built a 2.2km road over a peat desert
Now that really pissed me off.
One of the main reasons to do AWES is to avoid displacing some of the world’s best carbon sink (peat Moor) and covering it with road. Peat is no desert.
That problem will solve itself; when we are finished with all the roads and buildings, the peat will be gone.
The text says deserted peat field. Agree though, there were probably better options.
It also says they test after sunset at an airport to not disrupt commercial operation, or they were not allowed to, which I think is smart. If they had tested power production they also could have taken advantage of the lower wind gradient - and less turbulent and gusty wind? - during the night.
You really need to maximize test time. You will start out requiring really optimal conditions before expanding the environmental window of operation. Anything related to a site without perfect wind or not being able to exploit daylight conditions sounds like a problem to me
Yeah like that company issuing press-releases saying they had “rented office space”, and acquired a test site that they were not allowed to use for half of the months of the year (!) because of birds - that was an easy-to-predict bankruptcy.
BTW, I live at the edge of the Mojave Desert (high desert) near Los Angeles. Believe me, there is no peat in a desert. Well at least this desert. Lots of sand, no ocean. But we do have sea gulls flying around due to the California Aqueduct passing through this area. I buy bales of “peat moss” from Cheapo-Depot to mix with the local soil (which hardens almost like cement) to make it better for gardening and landscaping. If anyone wonders why I have not been doing much with wind energy devices lately, the answer is landscaping and gardening. We did however install our third (3) Bergey 10 kW wind turbine here on our 120-foot tower, since the previous one burned out its 1000-lb. alternator, due to installer error (a loose wire) combined with bad tech support from the factory. Now that the windy season is upon us, the new (used - refurbished by me) Bergey turbine is running smooth and once again paying the electric bill. Yesterday the wind was cranking, and the machine was putting out between 5 kW and 11 kW all day.
Which it sounds like they did here. They chose an existing airport relatively close to them, so they didn’t have to first relocate to Spain or Ireland, or build expensive new test sites or roads, and they chose to test after sunset so they had more opportunities to test. They could start testing immediately instead of waiting however long and spending however much money to build a road and test site in a deserted peat field and relocating their staff. Best to do both of course, if you have the money, and can do it without building new roads.
Hard to imagine a place so overpopulated you can’t find a place to fly a kite without building a special road. Something doesn’t sound right about that.
When you are flying something very heavy (for a kite) at very high speed on the end of a very long, fast-moving rope with very high tension, and it is a prototype, it is best if there is no one around.
We are commercializing kiwee since 1 year now. My feedback based on many commercial leads we had is that most of the time the main reason to not buy an Awes ( kiwee or wathever other machine) is that the place where people wants to use it is not favorable. That happen around 90% of all the leads we have. To say it in another way, it means that we convert only 10% at best into customers. Of course a utility scale Awes does not address the same market but despite that, I am pretty sure that they will face the same problem. Maybe this issue will be even more problematic for large machine.
Guys, welcome to discovering the basics of wind energy once again. Perhaps one of the least-comprehended aspects of wind energy is the rarity and particular characteristics of suitable sites. Let’s say you develop a small wind turbine for the home. You calculate your “future sales” based on overall population, then guesstimate what percentage of people might “want” wind energy. Well guess again: 99% of homes are not eligible for a wind energy system at all! You need a tower that will be higher than zoning allows for residential neighborhoods, as a start. And with that not-allowed tall tower you need enough acreage for a “fall-zone” within your own property borders. Oh and did anyone mention, you need a strong wind resource!(?) If you know anything about wind energy, you know all the “urban turbine” promoters out there (Our turbine captures turbulent winds in urban environments because it doesn’t have to aim!) are selling bad products based on bad ideas. Wind energy does not work in an urban environment, starting with the fact that cities are not usually found in high wind areas.
On the other hand, most of the world is empty of population to this day. People tend to congregate in certain convenient areas, while much of the world remains empty of people and undisturbed. Try looking at the satellite view on google maps and see how most places in the world have zero population. Only problem then is there is nobody to sell a turbine to, if nobody lives there. So wind energy requires empty spaces, with high winds, near populated areas. They exist, but are limited. (Many, if not most, are offshore). Anyway, with kitewinder, which I like by the way, I would think it would target people who’d like to charge their phone or other battery-powered devices on a camping trip, for example. Probably as much oriented around having fun as anything else. Now maybe they are thinking bigger than that, and maybe I’m spoiled by my current location at the edge of one of the larger deserts in the world, but here, there are hundreds of miles of open space where you could fly anything you want, whenever you want, even airplanes. For instance we have Edwards Airforce Base, Mojave Spaceport, El Mirage Dry Lake, all in the same area, and that is one of the MORE populated areas of the Mojave Desert as a whole. People farther out in the desert have their own runways and let their kids fly airplanes without a pilot’s license! Nobody cares! If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody to hear it, did it make a noise? But if there is nobody around, there is nobody to sell turbines to… Still, people who want to purchase a serious (reliable, power-producing) wind energy system need something reliable and self-regulating. So there is a difference between a “fun” wind energy system good for a science project or demo, and an appliance to provide reliable and consistent power. Anyway, wind energy has a lot of realities that newer people disregard until it’s time to start selling a product, at which point they realize it is a serious business with limited appropriate sites and customers, and that the few eligible customers are usually looking for something reliable, not something they need to babysit during use.
Thanks for sharing.
This is one of the reasons we moved away from building airborne systems. Even with our turbine that’s “firmly” mounted on the ground it seems there are many use cases where the machine is simple too dangerous - at least for now.
This is what I’ve been saying from day-one: AWE people have no idea what they are even getting into, let alone how to make it all work…
Are you saying that AWE is impractical except for engineers with experience in regular wind power?
And how do you explain the relatively low involvement of large wind companies in AWE?
OK this gets repetitive, but here goes:
“Wind energy is a magnet for crackpots. Airborne Wind Energy is a neodymium supermagnet.”
Another Doug Selsam repeated theme is:
“Wannabe wind energy inventors think their passing ideas must be breakthroughs because the wind will behave the way they want it to behave, but the wind behaves the way IT wants to behave.”
I cannot reasonably be responsible for figuring out every aspect of why some people think they can revolutionize an industry despite no knowledge of it, but I will say, any actual experience might be helpful. Couldn’t hurt. Then again, hiring Fort Felker to run the business didn’t help Makani.
Stepping back from the details, any solution will have to stand on its own two feet at some point. We can’t just “wish” a solution into existence. A real solution must deal with the wind on its own terms.
I think the low involvement of regular wind energy people in AWE is a subset of people in general not being involved in AWE. Most wind energy people are not “inventors”, they are workers, executives, etc. Real inventors are rare, and as we now know, wannabe inventors are somewhat less rare.
Sorry, I forgot to include the REASON wind energy is a magnet for crackpots:
It is simple:
The wind is INVISIBLE.
Since the wind is invisible, crackpots (or people in general) can IMAGINE the wind doing whatever they THINK it “should” do (or whatever they wish it would do), but it does what IT wants to do.
Tragic news for the staff who will have devoted so much effort.
There is still a minimal staff. They will no doubt be making sure their research efforts are still realised as best they can be in the circumstances.
Ampyx technology and capability is incredibly high level. This story surely still has more twists than a collapsed TRPT
Highly predictable . It took them 13 years to hardly produce a prototype that I am not even sure has ever produce anything. This is sad of course but possibly a good new for other developper. Now that the hype has faded with makani and then ampyx ( forgetting all the others before that like altaeros ) , smaller challengers will remain.
@dougselsam , I think developpers are well aware of difficulties and numerous issues when it comes to wind energy. There is no surprises in having small sales in this field as the market hitself is rather small.
At Kitewinder we took a radical decision long ago, kiwee is our main product but that is not our money maker. We made us financially independant from kiwee sells by developping others skills like resin molding services and engineering services in the fields of renewable , mainly wave energy. Kitewinder produces low pressure gradient air turbine from 100W power for demonstrator up to 24 kW devices for our last project. we also specialized on specific winch development for various applications.
Doing that, we gave ourselves all the time that we want to commercially devellop kiwee without any financial stress. At the moment the main market for kiwee is about education, we mainly sell to school. If there is a significant market for kiwee, we will end up finding it. I will be at IFA berlin in september btw, for those who would like to show up;)