AWES Scoring System

Airborne Wind Energy Scoring System

This is just a framework designed to evaluate the performance and viability of different Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) systems. The score is calculated based on five key factors: Power-to-Weight ratio, Cost of the System, Setup Time, the Number of People required to set up the system, and Average Wind Speed.

The scoring equation is:

Score = α(P/W) + ε(AvgWindSpeed) - β(Cost) - γ(SetupTime) - δ(SetupCrewSize)

  • P/W (Power to Weight Ratio): This measures how much power the AWE system can generate per unit of weight. A higher P/W ratio indicates a more efficient design.
  • Cost: This represents the total cost of the AWE system, including the upfront cost of the equipment, installation costs, and the cost of any necessary site preparation.
  • Setup Time: This represents the time it takes to set up the AWE system.
  • Setup Crew Size: This represents the number of people required to set up the AWE system.
  • AvgWindSpeed (Average Wind Speed): This represents the average wind speed the system operates under. A higher average wind speed generally allows for more power generation.

The weights (α, β, γ, δ, ε) in the equation would be determined based on the relative importance of each factor, as decided by experts in the field or your own requirements.


Normalization is a process that adjusts the individual numerical values measured on different scales to a notionally common scale. In this scoring system, we normalize each parameter to a common scale, for instance, a 0-10 scale. This involves choosing appropriate maximum and minimum values for each parameter. For example, if the maximum cost is $50,000 and the minimum is $0, the normalized cost for a system with a cost of $10,000 would be 1 - 10000/50000 = 0.8.

Scoring Equation

After normalization, the scoring equation becomes:

Score = α*(P/W normalized) + ε*(AvgWindSpeed normalized) - β*(Cost normalized) - γ*(SetupTime normalized) - δ*(SetupCrewSize normalized)

Where each normalized parameter is a value between 0 and 1.

Scoring systems across different fields are designed to provide a fair and objective way to compare performances, even when the conditions or participants are not identical. They often involve normalizing or adjusting raw scores based on certain factors. Here are a few examples:

  1. Golf Handicaps: In golf, handicaps are used to level the playing field when players of different skill levels are competing against each other. A player’s handicap is a number that approximates the number of strokes above par that the player might make over the course of an average round. This allows players of different skill levels to compete against each other on an equal footing.

  2. Sailing Classes and Handicaps: In sailing, boats are often divided into classes based on their design, size, and other characteristics. Within each class, boats compete directly against each other. However, when boats of different classes race together, a handicap system is used. The handicap is a factor that is used to adjust each boat’s finishing time, with the aim of making the race fair regardless of the boat’s class. The most well-known handicap system is the Portsmouth Yardstick, which provides handicap numbers for a wide range of classes.

  3. Renewable Energy: Comparing different forms of renewable energy, like wind, solar, and geothermal, involves considering a variety of factors, including the cost of installation, the amount of energy produced, the reliability of the energy source, and the environmental impact. These factors can be combined into a scoring system to provide an overall score for each type of energy. For example, the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) is a common metric used in the power industry to compare the cost of different methods of electricity generation on a consistent basis. It represents the average revenue per unit of electricity generated that would be required to recover the costs of building and operating a generating plant during an assumed financial life and duty cycle.

In all these cases, the aim of the scoring system is to provide a fair comparison between different participants or options, taking into account the relevant factors for each field. The specific factors and the way they are combined can vary widely depending on the field and the specific goals of the scoring system.

This seems like a pretty arbitrary list to me. I think it also kind of misses the point, as a buyer would not limit themselves to just considering AWES. I’m sure there is a term for finding the requirements that matter. Maybe doing Market research - Wikipedia would be a start. I bet there has also been some research done on this as well.

As a start, my go to assumption is that your solution would need to be an order of magnitude better on a requirement, say cost, than established alternatives to have a chance at market penetration, or perhaps selling any system at all, given the drawbacks your solution would have, say much lower reliability and much higher personnel costs.

It only seems fantastical because it hasnt been done in our field yet. but people score/compare figure skaters, and automobiles, I think we can make a system for AWES.

if the wind speed remains constant or averages out similarly throughout all tests, this implies that each Airborne Wind Energy System (AWES) is attempting to harness power from the same energy source. This scenario makes the energy generation, in this case, the AWES, quantifiable. Consequently, it facilitates a more standardized comparison among various AWES technologies.

You can make a nice scoring system but the numbers you put in are highly uncertain or subjectively chosen. Its going to be garbage in garbage out. Only after the fact, will you know if an AWE was any good. Before that deep analysis and knowhow is required, and the result is still both uncertain and subjective.

So the whole scoring idea is just infeasible at this point.

If you did it, and got support from a larger organization, it would only serve to promote some actors unfairly and set the stage for corruption.

Im sorry. This is a bad idea though we all would like to see it, if it could be done accurately and fairly.

Until an AWE becomes mainstream and many similar designs are being sold, the better option would be for a single person/entity to compare systems in a docunent/article/web page, but admitting that it is subjective, and somehow establish a reputation of not being [very] subjective.

Like, you could discuss these things and say what you mean about them. And also let the actors in AWE themselves comment on your findings

"At OKE, our primary focus is on kite control rather than energy generation, which means we don’t see ourselves as competitors for the ‘best AWES’ title. This perspective puts us without any conflict of interest. However, I’m inclined to believe that the current system might not be fair to already successful companies.

Looking at the Kiwee system, it’s a great example of an engineering triumph that unfortunately hasn’t been successful in the market, despite its proven functionality. The case with Makani is also worth noting; despite receiving hefty funding, the clear utility of their system remained elusive.

Pacific Sky Power is another mentionable player who has successfully engineered a parafoil wind generator.

A rating system could potentially level the playing field, allowing prototypes of any scale to compete. While no scoring method is perfect, these systems can provide comparative insights into competitors, especially in somewhat subjective fields. They also help generate publicity and can draw the attention of investors towards smaller but promising projects.

Based on these observations and discussions, it’s clear that the AWES field lacks an objective method for directing investments. This brings up an important question - what should be the criteria for determining the promise of one AWES over another?

This is highly speculative until a commercially successful AWE system exists

Commercial success in AWES is contingent on having a flourishing system first. We can’t expect a thriving industry without the foundation of successful products. So, it’s crucial to ask, are investors taking a leap of faith with their funds, are they gambling? or do they have a systematic decision-making process? So, what criteria or metrics are being used to determine where investments are placed?

First of all I’d like to point out, there is a difference between actual innovators, in any field, and those who would like to try to categorize them after the fact. The “categorizer-type” people, likely to fit in only as bureaucrats, like to “take credit” for the innovations of the innovators. This is more significant than you think. Here’s an example: “Official science” consistently declared “stones cannot fall from the sky”, while regular people, actually out in the field, consistently reported meteor falls, even producing examples of tools and knives made from meteoric iron. Yet who now pretends to be “in charge” of meteorites? Categorizers! The same people who denied their existence.

In the field of investiing, no matter what the field, there is always uncertainty and risk. Otherwise, everyone would have just invested in Tesla and Amazon as the no-brainers they now seem to be in retrospect. You didn’t need to know much to see that the internet would be big, or that there was a mandate push toward electric cars, with huge incentives offered, a free plant already built, etc.

Anyway, you are talking about a field where there is simply nothing worth investing in right now. Meanwhile, gullible investors will always get overenthusiastic over partial, feel-good stories they are told. This is like asking which airplane is best, back at the stage of humping, pumping, parasols. Which categorizer do you want to ask? What do they really know? Nothing.

Today’s categorizers are similar to the proverbial blind men describing an elephant. Since there is no convincing example of the actual “elephant” yet, the categorizer personality is in above his head. There is no place for a bureaucrat yet in AWE. We see what idle bystanders in their ignorance have wrought so far. How do you think companies like Magenn raised millions for complete nonsense? Some idle bystander type people, such as even people at NASA who promoted the Magenn image, promote undeveloped ideas in a field they don’t understand, tricking investors who also don;t understand wind energy, into parting with their hard-earned funds. :slight_smile:

Investment is not roulette. I would love you to convince your investor otherwise with this reasoning.

Why are we even in this field if one can’t demonstrate the utility of AWES as compared to other renewable systems?

Are there distinct advantages to some actors to not have a scoring system? That is like claiming to be the best athlete in a sport where you never have to compete…

If I were an investor, I wouldn’t invest anything in AWE for electricity generation. Everything that has been tried has largely failed, even with substantial funding. Traditional wind turbines are a long way ahead. If one day I see (or make), even on the paper, something viable and credible with a unit power well above that of a wind turbine, I’ll take a look. For example something like on but feasible.

Giant airborne ‘power station’ could blow rivals out of the water

There IS a scoring system. it’s called the electric grid, or any place that needs power.
Any wind energy system is scored by how well it fulfills any actual need for electricity.

Kind of like if you claimed to have a new means of transportation, how well does it get you to grandma’s house? Does it actually travel? Does it carry you and some gear? OK then grandma is happy.

Or does it just sit there, while you talk about how great it will be?
Or maybe it claims to have some great numbers going to grandma’s house in record time, but it’s just not repeatable enough to be in regular operation - Grandma remains lonely and isolated.

As I’ve been saying for years now, wind energy is highly perfected like Formula-1 racing. Most AWE projects are like showing up to qualify at a Formula-1 race with a wheelbarrow. It’s not even remotely comparable to what already is.

I remain perplexed and somewhat skeptical of some of the great output figures claimed by some long-time AWE efforts - does not match that lack of activity we see today.

:rofl: Makes my day. Brutal truth

Pray tell, how are you going to get on the grid, without first demonstrating X criteria? That is the topic in question. You’re doing a poor job at convincing investors AWES is even worth it. To which I would ask, why are we here?

This is also an example that carries more depth. When internet was young, it was clear that it could involve big money. I tested the internet at the point where the best site was «joke of the day». I had no doubt that it was going to be huge.


Most companies from that era are bankrupt by now. The big companies now like Google and Amazon are pretty late contenders. People who made «internet» did not get rich. Rather those who were able to reconize a possibility in the chaos and build something there. Like Elon Musk was able to join the PayPal team.

On my own part, the best I could figure out was to buy some domains, but at the point it was already unprofitable. You could say the same with cryptocurrency (I made some money but lost it all) and even Magic The Gathering cards (why didnt I just buy 1000 dual lands back in 2000 and 100x my investment?).

Being a successful investor is not about funding AWE most probably. AWE should be funded in other ways that enabled «crazy innovators» to establish possibilities, that most surely will be exploited by people with business sense, leaving the innovators in the cold. Most probably.

The way it is now, it doesnt make much business sense to start from scratch. And public funding seems to get routed to the safe «University/PhD» kind of environment, where a bright imaginative mind will fall short in the competition (is studying for 9 years the ability that says that you will succeed in innovation?). And we see what kind if things Academia is producing for AWE. Some great stuff but also a lot of «jazz» stuff, made for only the inner circle’s own curiosity and not potentially useful to people at large.

These were €20 a piece when I started playing Magic

I’d propose something different, something less informal, with no travel and no competition, with the referee being the grid.

Depending on the objectives:

  • Harness as much wind as possible at high altitude for very large scale ranges, as was the primary objective;

  • Make something much lighter than a conventional wind turbine, saving on materials, at low and medium altitude;

  • Produce small and medium scale ranges for medium and high altitude wind, with the aim of increasing the capacity factor even for reduced production;

  • Individual AWES.

There may be other objectives, and crossovers between them (but not necessarily). Then conceptors chose the features which match their objective.

I see the big picture here and the potential to connect to the grid, but I believe it’s a step-by-step progression. Divisions like W, kW, MW, and GW make sense, each representing a milestone toward a larger goal. This could be one of the categories.

Now, the W and kW scales are more approachable (kiwee, Daisy proto, KGM Proto, etc) catering to individual or small group generators. But when we start talking about the heavyweights - MW and GW scales (radio controlled/ fly-by-wire AWES) - that’s where the real challenges begin.

For those larger scales to be viable, we absolutely must have systems that can auto-launch and land, or at least produce enough power to make it economically viable. These aren’t just aspirations; they’re engineering constraints. If we can’t meet these criteria, then the economics of Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) don’t add up, at least from an engineering standpoint.

In other words, our goal should be a system that’s either nearly autonomous at the heavyweight scales or one that outperforms traditional wind turbines by a significant margin. Anything short of that, and we’re likely looking at a non-starter economically and definitely with the grid.

I’m open to thoughts, corrections, or insights. This is uncharted territory, and as engineers, we need to be clear-eyed about our constraints.

Use an inverter.
Or the same turbine can be used to charge batteries in an off-grid application.
Or there are “mini-grids”…
Nothing is stopping you.
It is very easy to demonstrate a wind energy device, assuming you have anything worth demonstrating.
It’s easy to have one running on a daily basis.
Assuming the machine is capable of regular operation,
or the people want to bother running it regularly.

Let’s talk about a demonstration lasting a few days, and as we’re talking about harvesting high altitude winds, let’s take a minimum of 100-200 m, and in automated mode including takeoff, landing, electricity production.

Is your garden big enough?

Are there any obstacles in your garden, such as trees, slopes or rocks?

Are your neighbours far enough away?

Is the wind device reliable enough?

You run at a size you can, given your space. In my case, there is a lot of room for demos of manageable size. What you’re talking about is the typical mistake of failing to learn at a workable size considering your resources, wasting millions on too-big steps you aren’t ready for anyway.

People would rather raise millions for something too difficult to achieve, than show they are competent at a workable scale. Real wind energy machines started relatively small, then got bigger as experience allowed.

The armchair engineers of the world just love sitting around talk-talk-talking about what they COULD do, if only they hed enough money to hire lots of people, facilitiees etc., but the real problem is not the lack of people or facilities, it is the lack of working out details at a reasonable scale to then be worth expanding on.

As I always say, why say you are going to power X hundred homes in location Y by date Z, when you can;t even power one home now? Silly.