Lifespans of power kites have rightly been of great interest in AWES R&D. Compare probable lifespans of the competing “energy drone” paradigm, with typical critical dependencies like eVTOL, active digital control, rigid composite wings, flygens, com links, control-pods, batteries, and so on, Consider also an energy drone’s higher mass at higher velocity, with less power-to-mass than power kites, and no crashworthiness.
Drone pros cite accidents as the major cause of their short drone lifespans. There are countless complex failure modes and very little crashworthiness. Otherwise, the lifespan of major drone components, like batteries and motors, is a few hundred hours, and two years pro drone lifespan overall is considered reasonable.
Expert estimation of drone lifespan does not seem longer than cheap kites, nor comes near the ~20yr lifecycle HAWTs achieve, nor even close to Makani’s [AWEC 2011] 5yr pay-back estimate. Factoring in crashes, current drone industry lifespans match fairly close to AWES energy drone statistics, somewhere around 50hrs, and slowly getting better.
Drones will achieve long lifespans in a decade or two, but still won’t scale much until graphene and superconducting power electronics revolutionize performance. Graphene power kites will scale in parallel, and KIS will still matter.
Detailed drone-pro discussion of slowly improving short drone lifespan-
Energy drone designers are stuck with inherent “disadvantages” when they downselect drone “advantages”. Pros and cons of drones-