New paper on AWES design

Colleagues from the TU Delft faculty of Technology and Policy Management (TPM), Geerten van de Kaa and Linda Kamp have published a paper on Exploring design dominance in early stages of the dominance process: The case of airborne wind energy that might be of particular interest to this forum. The work is open access and you can access the page proofs here.

Seems premature
Would be great if there was a clear pattern from the research
but with only 7 experts interviewed and only 2 schemes considered . . . yet again . . . When…?

In light of the NREL framing of AWES … This report is limited in scope.

Why is AWES still be being analysed in a limited 2 model framing?

However I do find myself agreeing with the conclusion

The outcome of this paper points to four factors
that, according to the experts that we have interviewed, affect the emergence of a dominant design in
this market: technological superiority, regulator, flexibility and ‘big fish’.


I suggest that you provide feedback to the authors. As far as I can tell, they have looked at what AWE tech is out there and made their own choices what to focus on. I believe the IEA wind task will finally provide a good umbrella with bottom up input to systematically cover all concepts.


Good call, Thanks Roland


Thanks - Interesting - in the introduction I read:
“The two designs are found to have still equal chances of achieving design dominance.”
(“the two designs”? - how about “the two approaches” or “the two concepts”?)
So I guess they mean they are out of their league and they might as well not have even written the paper because it tells us nothing except that they have nothing to add to the conversation. Wow, just think, all that work. I hope their computer is OK.
I still say they might not even be asking the right questions - of course they came up with a 50/50 no-decision result - if, let’s just say hypothetically, nobody knows what they’re doing in the first place yet, how could these people see beyond that?
Kind of takes us back to 2009 at the first conference - flygen? skygen? groundgen? roundgen?
Joke: How many geniuses, from how many fields, does it take to conquer the challenge of AWE?
(Sorry I haven’t come up with a punchline yet)
And the biting question-of-the-week: What about 3-D printing???
Personally I would note:

  1. generators tend to be heavy, and
  2. the electricity is needed at ground level
  • just sayin’…
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I kind of like the way Elon Musk worked with EVs. He just did a deep think and figured out that hydrogen did not make sense while batteries did.

Same with AWE. I think maybe neither the current Ampyx design nor the Makani design will succeed. We are still looking for a missing ingredient.

One place we should be looking is at rotary AWE. This field has for some reason been overlooked by academia more or less so far. Why is this? I think it is a sign that the academics are not on the track to uncover the secret ingredient any time soon.

Im sure there are also other areas where one could contribute to AWE.

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In this case, the first patent for a Fly-Gen system was already issued in 1981 (Loyd, 1981), while the first patents were issued for the Ground-Gen systems in the early 2000s; Ippolito (2006) issued the patent ‘vertical axis wind turbine with control system steering kites’ in 2006 and the patent ‘System and process for automatically controlling the flight of power wing airfoils’ in 2007 (Ippolito, 2007).

No, a patent for a Fly-Gen system was already issued in 1976 (Payne, 1976):

No, a patent for a Ground-Gen system was already issued in 2002-2003 (Ragner):

These inaccuracies also reveal that what is presented as the two main categories (Fly-Gen, Ground-Gen) encompass everything that exists (or rather does not exist) in the field of AWES. Indeed there is no mentioned difference between carousel (“vertical axis…”) and reel-in/out (yo-yo) mode, even between crosswind and static kites. So rotary AWES could enter any of these two categories as well, as Ground-Gen (Daisy, SuperTurbine ™), or as Fly-Gen (Sky Windpower).

So the classification in two categories is very approximate compared to that from @rschmehl which resumes all in only one page.

It seems that the methodology applies to marketing in different areas: the specifics and technical issues specific to AWES are barely mentioned.

No lesson is learned from Makani’s failure. Moreover there is no available data about the duration of the flight in automatic mode, not to mention the production in KW/h over a given period.

In all cases, rotary or not, crosswind or not, flygen or yo-yo, flexible or rigid, carousel or rotating reel, the architecture should be designed to increase the power / weight and power / space use ratios, not the power / kite area ratio taken alone.

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On the positive side, I agree that the Makani effort did not disprove flygen.
And even though I like to give kite-reeling a hard time, we can say both approaches have successfully generated substantial amounts of power.