KPS assets for sale

Doug, you produce an explanation based on statistics, “nearly 100% failure rate”, which is not so far from Luke’s 95%. AWE is not yet concreted, so statistics cannot be positive. Thus we should be busy about the few chances of success.

Beside it, please can you explain in technical terms why KPS should be failing? Is it due to the use of the pumping mode?

Hi Pierre: The 95% was just a guess from Luke. The nearly 100% was based on the known history.
The “statistics” I’ve watched over the years have been:

  1. Every attempt at some whacky new (or whacky old) way to do wind energy has failed. Whether it is some professor crackpot forcing air through a Savonius turbine in a too-small wind-tunnel, a Dabiri promoting vertical-axis turbines added below regular turbines, twisted Savoius turbines, ducted turbines, Darrieus turbines at any scale. There may be one niche company still producing overpriced, undersized, twisted Savonius turbines that make almost no power, not sure if they are still in business but that would be more of a novelty rather than a true source of meaningful amounts of power. If anyone doesn’t believe this, show us the windfarm using a professor crackpot wind energy system!
  2. The symptoms I noted with KPS in the last few years was their press-releases: “Renting office space” and a test facility they were not allowed to use for most of the year. I don’t see how anyone serious about testing and improving a wind energy system would settle for a test site they could not use year-round. That sounded like they were drinking their own Kool-Aid. Yes, the pumping mode too, since it shares aspects of a Savonius turbine, and so many teams have been trying it but without much apparent success - no system in daily operation, no products for sale, etc. as the years roll on. Doesn’t take a genius at some point to see the writing on the wall. Even though KPS supposedly had a 500 kW kite-reeling system, I wondered about the details of that. I mean, 500 kW is a serious amount of power. Equal to a supercar racing engine at full throttle! It takes about a 10 kW system in a good wind resource to power a home - the one here has zeroed out our electric bills, but how long do they last? Unlike solar, they break down, requiring expensive repairs. No way could they ever pay for themselves. Not even close. Not within an order of magnitude. It’s all about save-the-planet subsidies with nobody considering they churn the economy for so much more than the value of the electricity they produce that they are probably a net producer of CO2, if you think that is important. Anyway a 500 kW wind energy system could power 50 homes and make some money, but we never heard about KPS doing that. It just all sounded like a lot of hype to me. And Roddy told us he had visited KPS a year or two ago, maybe longer, and it did not seem like they were very optimistic or active, even back then. Well at least they gave it a try. I don’t want to be too critical. It was more of an effort than most people promoting AWE, many of whom never make much of an effort to do anything meaningful at all. I would also say, however, to compare AWE projects, it might help to also compare how much money and man-years it took, for what result.
    I’ve seen all this type of thing happen again and again. I think the internet made it worse. Suddenly the website becomes the product, and it becomes more about appearances, to raise more money, than ever figuring out whether you can even come up with a useful, reliable and cost-effective wind energy solution.
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In our lifetimes, we have seen two major new successes in wind energy; industrial scale wind power based on towers, and power kites.

For every venture loser in these success stories, there are countless new jobs and new end-users. This will continue for decades to come. That’s the big picture, much like aviation has evolved by winners. Counting losers is not good enough.

KPS’s story can go either way. They can be part of expected M&A consolidation in AWE, and live on, or fail to find a buyer. There is business uncertainty unrelated to technical value. We have seen folks get rich for marginal AWE ideas, and other folks go broke with better ideas.

Yes, it is well analysed. KPS is not the only concerned company. Automated crosswind kites cannot compete with conventional wind turbines by considering the available technology, due to the lack of reliability, the low elevation angle which, combined to a high purposed power, leads to a huge land and space use, and also an irregular and diminished power.

Perhaps marketable AWES are likely small (if possible automated) static systems carrying a turbine, like Kitewinder or Pacific Sky Power, flying at higher altitude than equivalent tower turbines but lower than FAA limit (500 ft and less), and with a high elevation angle which, combined to a limited power, allows them to fly everywhere and particularly for an individual use.

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Its a hopeless fallacy to expect AWE technology, as a “newborn baby”, to earn early revenue in an established energy market.

Instead, AWE is a hot clean-energy R&D sector. The first billion dollars in investment was to develop the technology to date, and billions more are needed to develop economy-of-scale.

The race is to brilliantly develop fundamental capability, not to observe the obvious, that market presence does not yet exist.

KPS is well positioned to continue as an R&D player, if they are agile enough to follow AWE progress wherever it leads. The most fatal mistake any player can make is to ride a suboptimal AWES architecture into oblivion.

And smaller one would require us to burn just few millions opposed to billions !

The auction is over. Wondering who got it. When do ya’ll think we’ll know?

As the self-described world’s leading AWE researcher, how long do you think the “newborn baby” excuse can go on (for you, since I do not see others using it)? If, in this claimed role, you do not feel it is your problem to make power, how and who will ever earn any revenue? Revenue just indicates activity - not the same as profit.

As the self-described world’s leading AWE researcher, when do you plan to “brilliantly develop fundamental capability”?
In that supposed role, in your opinion, how many more years should others not speak about the obvious? By what date will it be OK to “observe the obvious”?
When will your conveniently-named “newborn baby” become, say, a toddler, that can walk and eat on its own?
Is there any point where any reasonable person should expect anything at all from AWE?

AWE is not at all special in that any reasonably difficult technology needs some time and money to develop.

Enabling technologies also need to be in place. I’ll take a guess and say it’s only been a few years (if the time has come at all) since it has been possible to even begin trying to get a kite to fly itself and react in real-time to sensor inputs. The teams are also typically small so progress is also typically slow. I’m guessing the companies are often people and resources constrained, so what might take a big engineering department 2 years to develop might take these companies 7 years or longer.

As multiple architectures have shown, it is possible to extract energy from the wind using tethered devices. So if R&D continues and the companies are run competently and keep existing, something should eventually come out of it. The idea is to replace concrete and steel with software and software is cheaper than steel in the long run after all.

It could be that still some enabling technologies are not ready, or that architectures have critical design flaws that prevent them even getting to market. That is a more interesting and useful question. That would require a deep technical analysis of the specific architecture chosen by a company though. I don’t think I have seen any such analysis on here. It’s also reasonably difficult to do without doing corporate espionage.

Anyway, disruptive innovation takes time. Link drop: Disruptive Innovation We’ve gone over this before.

Does any documentation exist to prove this, other than simulations? As far as I am concerned AWE is still in the “maybe feasible” bracket (though personally a believer that we are likely feasible). The reason such documentation (perhaps) does not exist would be well described in your post… small teams, difficult problem to solve etc.

For the pumping mode there is a Tu Delft dataset : tests on “Hydra” (14 m²) with 10 m/s wind speed result in an average power of 5.75 kW, and an average power generation phase of 13.8 kW (table 8, page 44).

On said table 8 dataset 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 concern “Mutiny” (25 m²). In 5, wind speed is 8 m/s, average power is 5.19 kW, average power generation phase is 14.1 kW. All these values concern mechanical power.

To compare with an equivalent wind turbine comprising a rotor of 6 m diameter, Cp of 0.45, 7600 W at 10 m/s wind speed: a blade of 3 m weighs 9 kg (http://atv.tm.free.fr/EN_blades.htm), while the weight of Hydra or Mutiny with the pod is 20-25 kg.

In a side: regular power, reliability, durability, no land use. In the other side, land use 1 km², space use 0.5 km³, erratic power, hard control, no reliability, but a little less weight.

So AWES for utility-scale is not for tomorrow, if it comes some day. Note that the paper dates from 2012, and no significantly better results came after. So the “newborn baby” is getting old without growing much. Perhaps some niche market such as some individual uses could be found.

Absolutely yes, come on, that’s not in contention any more… For reference links see AWEC2019 book of abstracts.

For me, the contentious part @Windy_Skies wrote was

Yes silicon-based technologies scale incredibly well.
No… We’re replacing Concrete and Steel With Dyneema and other materials which can maintain form while tensile loaded moving fast through the air. Not as catchy a sound-byte.

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• Faced with an insolvency position, rapidly formulated, negotiated and executed a plan to allow an orderly wind down of the business to the satisfaction of all stakeholders

Form the CFOs linkedin bio.

Doug,

When Franklin referred to aviation as a “newborn baby”, it took another 150yrs for aerospace to mature. HAWTs took a thousand or so years to become today’s mature technology. 2030 has been the cautiously opimistic predicted “debutante” timeframe for AWE to show early maturation. Kite sports are already the “toddler, that can walk and eat on its own”, as you put it. See the history of kitesurfing documentary to understand better.

I only claim, with JoeF and references, to be a top kite history and technology researcher, along with a handful of peer experts, like JoeF and Walter Diem, and folks of Drachen Foundation. My seven great years at the World Kite Museum studying the archives and collection, and getting to know and train with so many legendary “kitegods”, have been a fantastic education.

Let history someday prove who was most expert at AWE today, based on how the field turns out.

This is not the topic to talk about who is expert in what. We’ve had a short back-and-forth about that. I will remove any new comments that are too far removed from the topic.

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Thank you Mr Freak, I do consider myself to be an artist; but there is a lot more engineering substance to it than a just an impression.

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Hi George, welcome to the forum! :slightly_smiling_face:
Thought your comment was out of context until I realized who you are.
If you’ve got any juicy details, now that the auction is over, we’re all ears!

Nothing to juicy, but the design illustrated is intended to:

  • Produce a lower cost airframe, not carbon fibre; there is a patent being auctioned on this in the sale.
  • Supply a simple ground station which preserves tether life through subtleties in the line feed design.
  • and a system which can handle/manipulate the aircraft on the ground.
  • It is a revised concept from the twin soft kites but contrary to what Mr Freak suggested it remains a shared airspace, shared subsystem concept; you will notice two ground stations in the illustration.
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George,

Thanks for starting to provide engineering background. It was clear from the artist’s impression that its still a “a shared airspace, shared subsystem concept”.

The big question is whether KPS is in trouble or achieving a new funding round. Thanks for any news on that.

Mr Freak