Fake it till you make it?


But can a technology be both viable and “further away from a complete product than they hoped for”?


In my opinion, most AWE projects are not necessarily run by competent people with both feet on the ground. You;re mostly looking at “fake-it-til-you-make-it” overly-optimistic-to-outright-dishonest promotion against a backdrop of complete insanity caused by “global warming derangement syndrome” rationalized by the idea of “the price is too high if the level-headed people are wrong”. But they never seem to consider maybe the price is too high to ignore the level-headed people if they are right. Well, you know the old saying, tell a lie enough times and people will believe it. Why would people believe a lie just because they heard it so many times? Yes, why do you? Someday a freezing populace will acknowledge the present period as the largest example of mass-hysteria / mass-insanity the world ever saw, meanwhile you can cash in on it with next-to-nothing. The world has always been full of people who thought they could conquer wind energy using some pet method that “sounds good”. I do not think Makani proved anything one way or the other. Don’t forget, from the viewpoint of established wind energy, such people are just “idiots, idiots, idiots”, so it is possible Makani is just the emperor with no clothes. Doesn’t disprove the concept of clothing. You could tell they were giving up years ago. Why were they never flying? Maybe cuz lying is easier than flying? Even Dave Santos did a pretty good job of debunking Makani and he falls into that previously mentioned camp himself, Doesn’t mean the concept or some similar concept is flawed, just that they went down that well-worn path of the press-release breakthroughs, group selfies, and building too big too fast.

I think these are valid points in view of the Google/Makani event.

What should be the requirement of a serious contender in the AWE industry? Are some AWE companies just clueless “posers”?

What I would like to discuss in this thread is what should be known upfront by an AWE company, and what may be expected to be discovered along the way. Are uninformed AWE companies hurting the AWE business as a whole by pursuing deadborn ideas?

(Not to state my opinion here in any sense, just figured this would be an interesting discussion apart from directly dealing with the Makani case)

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Let us begin by a supposition. As KiteMill builds and tests prototypes in the 5 kW range, close to the power needed to power my house, I want to buy you an unity. If this is not still possible can you tell what are the technical and other obstacles you see to sell me an AWES?

I would like this thread to not be about Kitemill, in particular given the quite “hairy” introduction. I could not use this thread to comment on Kitemills technical progress…

So what could have prevented Makani from marketing its 20 kW wing to power a single house?

Personally I would have chosen to make power at smaller scale before scaling up.

There are many companies being able to produce 5-10 kW units that can power a house each. Why don’t they try to market them? What are the obstacles?

I would like to point at one thing that I have noticed: In the first AWE book, it says that tether drag is reduced with scale. I believe many people in the AWE industry optimistically misunderstood this to mean that with larger wings, tether drag would become less of an issue. My findings/calculations have shown that both tether diameter and length should scale with wingspan, and thus tether drag has a relatively the same effect at any scale.

I believe this may have led some actors to scale too fast, before they have produced energy.

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I think it may be because the companies wanted to test the wind at high altitude first, starting with a relatively small wing and a relatively long tether. Shortening the tether for small wings to supply my home, it should not be too difficult. So what else? Do you see another issue with tether?

I find it difficult to answer these questions. What do you mean issues with tether? And are we actually on topic anymore? If you want to interview me to figure out why I still believe in single kite Yoyo, thats ok. But perhaps in a separate thread.

I can say that I am also not in possession of all the answers, there will always be uncertainties and certain "leap of faiths"s.

I tried to put you on the track, thinking I was still in the topic.

Perhaps I could install a traditional wind turbine, roughly where the green car is. Now how could I install a crosswind AWES, even at the end of a short rope. Is there no risk of the wing going to the neighbors?

I was thinking of only technical hurdles at this point. That is technical in the sense of just producing power in an open space with nice wind, even only in some directions.

I don’t consider safety and space issues as technical issues at this point.

I think to make a windmill on your property would not be easy with AWE because it would follow the wind, or it would have to be landed much of the time.

BUT: If you agree to buying a windmill that is only working in one (presumably the dominant) wind direction, and placed on top of your garage, you might have a farming area or otherwise in that direction that may be non-entrance for humans as long as the AWE rig is operational. You could mostly secure the operation with geo-fencing, a safety stop button and fences.

I don’t think this would be the first place one would place an AWE rig though.

If you are concerned with safety and space usage in general, we have discussed this a few times before. My starting point will always be to produce some power under super-ideal conditions, before we start trying to fly over people. If you don’t think there are enough good sites for AWE in the world, that could well be one showstopper to make AWE unviable (being on topic).

So, to ask you in return: Is space and safety something that you think must be addressed before it is worthwhile to try to produce some electricity using AWE, or is it OK to take a leap of faith on this one, and hope that It may be solved later.

Your reply could label me as a dishonest person, because I am trying to build AWE rigs at Kitemill without good answers for these issues. But I am okay with hearing it if you believe this to be true.

To the west it is clear but there is a path with pedestrians from time to time. I’m not sure if they’d be happy to receive an AWES in the face or serve as a roast beef cut by the tether, unless super-advanced software prevents that. Let’s be a little realistic.

Your message is representative of the way of understanding AWE that we see in scientific circles and startups: the search for efficiency by kite area. Even your method of calculating tether drag fits into this perspective, when it could also, if not in the first place, be used as a basis for an evaluation of the power / space use ratio, which in this case would help me to know the maximum AWE power that I could put in my garden.

This second approach by power/space use is excluded from the circles I just mentioned. However, scientific studies could refine what would be the possible secondary uses according to the angle of elevation, the speed and the weight of the whole, the length of the tether… A draft has even been sketched, but it is nothing compared to what could be done in this area.

Now, a third (or a first by changing priorities) approach is considering the real wind energy. @dougselsam often and rightly compares the regular and safe working of a wind turbine with random AWE operation and for very short contiguous periods, rightly invoking the lack of knowledge about wind energy. He can explains it far better than me. For what I know there are more experts in aerospace than in wind energy, with the notable exception of Dr. Fort Felker in Makani.

It is the time to investigate these two other fields instead of confining oneself indefinitely to a search for illusory efficiency.

I get perplexed with this format where a post suddenly appears in a new “topic”.
“Fake it til you make it” is an approach mentioned in some startup advice discussions, but also describes Ponzi schemes such as Bernie Madoff. How many tech supposed “startups” are really just a “Ponzi scheme with an excuse”? Like real Ponzi schemes, the perpetrator often never intends to start a Ponzi scheme, but at some point they “bend the rules” “just a little” which becomes a way of doing business when it doesn’t fix the situation the first time. But with a confusing mix of engineering and accounting, who can really sort it all out to say fraud occurred?
Anyway, I think startups get a lot of bad advice, where the “business” people running incubators etc. have the skills to, say, raise funding, but not the engineering skills or even just common sense to understand the details of when it is a good idea to take on a lot of debt or financial liability, yet they still have no problem giving “advice”. Meanwhile, one fact of both wind energy and aviation is scalability of most configurations. Very interesting: spellcheck just tried to “correct” my sentence, and substitute “salability” for “scalability”. Quite ironic. Anyway, you can have a full-size Boeing 747, or a scale model that flies in a similar manner. Same with most machinery. I’ve outlined the “symptoms” of my “Professor Crackpot Syndrome” description of what I’ve seen in wannabe wind energy, which includes going too big, too fast. I don’t think a hired programmer is necessarily dishonest for taking a challenging position. But what I do think is there is an atmosphere of gullibility being taken advantage of by many, and some wannabe-wind efforts that, by known reasoning, have holes in the basic concepts, like for example “FloDesign”, later changed to “Ogin”, funded by Kleiner Perkins, wasting something like a hundred million for a previously disproven concept that was easily debunkable on paper. All they had to do was consult with knowledgeable wind people but instead they find one person with wind credentials who is “for hire” and get them to say it is promising. Ducted turbines: yes they work but are more expensive than increasing rotor diameter, especially at large scales, and have noise problems and other issues.
Dabiri: I guess you can add to the list of crackpot symptoms, the idea that some wind turbine design is unsuitable in general, but could be added to windfarms at a lower height. They never explain why, if it were even a valid idea to add more turbines at a lower height to a windfarm where turbine spacing was already optimized, why would you suddenly choose vertical-axis turbines for such a use? To me it looks like a shell-game where the investors miss which shell the bean is under. Dabiri starts with the idea of a supposed slight increase in efficiency for a vertical-axis windfarm by clever placement of the V-A turbines, but never addresses the known problems with vertical-axis turbines that precludes any V-A windfarms still existing. Right there, an astute investor should know better, but many will not see such an obvious question. By the time the “bean” is placed under the “shell” of augmenting existing windfarms at a lower height, the investor types may have forgotten the question of whether vertical-axis turbines are not found in existing windfarms, or how existing windfarms already optimize energy extraction per unit area, and become lost in the confusion of a “story” with just enough variables to become confusing to non-wind people. Well, with AWE systems and proposed systems, there are probably similar dealbreaker aspects that could be considered, such as whether pulling on cables is a viable electric generation scheme even if the pull was free. This I do not know, but it seems that often, there is no such analysis of the component concepts, just as Dabiri led people to forget about the basic question of advisability of using vertical-axis turbines in the first place, by injecting confusion through added complexity.

I think there is no question that a market would exist for a machine to generate wind energy in places where it is currently not possible.

Many people out there have «great» ideas. I agree that some should be debunked and ended as soon as possible. For AWE there has been no solid «debunk» yet. It is simply too complex to analyze all aspects, so people get it wrong one way or the other.

But if you dont try without a complete understanding, you will never discover anything other than incremental improvements over windmills. This may be the best wind power will ever do, but I dont agree that we should stop trying to find different approaches to harvesting wind power.

I believe in science. Therefore I believe substantial damage has been done to earth already, and more will be done unless we do something. You could try to get people to stop using energy. This is something I cannot achieve in my life - i am not into politics. On the other hand, making green energy cheaper will definitively make an impact, and this is something I can contribute to. I am not sure if AWE will make an impact to brake global warming, I think maybe it’s a little late already. But perhaps one day in the future… hopefully I can make a bigger impact in green energy than what I have already done to promote cheap oil (quite a lot I’m afraid).

What I would propose as a logical next step: create the encyclopædia of AWE. Present each method with currently known issues. This may help future «inventors» and investors navigate possible startups/investments. Any valid issue or worry should be there. Anythink debunked should be shown clearly.

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