What is Airborne Wind Energy?
Conventional Wind Energy
When hearing about Wind Energy most people currently think of the wind turbines consisting of a tower with a heavy generator on top to which two or three wings are attached. While this design has grown in acceptance as much as it has is size, it has some flaws. With increasing height the costs for the tower increase exponentially and require a sophisticated infrastructure for transporting the heavy components and assembling the power plant. What is more, the outer most part of the huge and heavy wings create the most energy. Airborne Wind Energy tries to make use of this fact and significantly simplify the design of wind based power generators.
The concept of Airborne Wind Energy will replace the tower by a tether which connects a kite to the ground. This kite is the equivalent of the wing tips of the conventional turbine. It will fly in circles or figures of eight to increase the effective wind speed. By removing the heavy components from the system, this type of power plant is much more flexible in terms of location, and considerably cheaper in construction.
Power generation is realized by a generator on the ground. The kite pulls out the tether with positive electricity output and is pulled in at the end of the cycle with less negative output by adjusting the angle of wing to wind, thus lowering the opposing force. Generally speaking AWE system allow wind farms at higher altitudes which goes hand in hand with higher and more constant wind speeds.