Interviews

EnerKite sets new benchmarks in Airborne Wind Energy

Location:
27th September 2012  To: 27th September 2012

Most of today’s wind turbines supply their rated output less than a quarter of time. EnerKites is all set to deliver rated power onshore and offshore at least fifty percent of the time in the form of unique Kites. This offers a unique potential for use steady and strong winds above the hub heights of conventional wind power plants onshore as well as offshore.


EnerKites are novel wind energy plants, which at the end of the development produces energy at 80% of the time and work over 4000 hours per year on full load. This will be possible by the use of persisting and stronger winds at heights of 100 - 500 m. This technology is economical among other things by extremely efficient material use, best use of the airspace and small assembly and transport costs.


EnerKites works in two phases following reverse Yo-Yo concept. In the retraction phase, the wing is flying cross-wind, pulling out the rope with optimal force and speed. In the recovery phase the wing is returning back to the starting point as fast and smooth as possible. The ground-station allows to generate electrical power from the moment of retraction and to actuate the wing from the ground by use of differential drum drives.


World Wind Energy Platform speaks to  Alxender Bormann, CEO – EnerKite, Berlin Germany to learn more about Enerkite Company, its concepts and products towards the next generation of wind power plants.


The Reporter: Is the technology ready for commercial deployment?


Alxender Bormann: The current commercial perspectives are given by the capacity of the EK30 demonstrator to provide green energy as a mobile airborne wind energy converter.  We are requested to operate the EK30 in the frame of events and marketing campaigns. EnerKite also offers the EK30 platform and knowledge in the frame of tests and measurements for third parties such as kite developers or research institutions.


The Reporter: What’s the percentage of parasitic consumption in this technology and the Net PLFs possible?

 

Alxender Bormann: At this stage it is too early to disclose the final figures. The power and time needed for the retraction will be reduced to a minimum with the next generation of kites which is under development right now. The indicated power of 30 kW is the average rated power over the cycle. The designing systems to have 50% capacity factor on a typical onshore site are under development.

 

The Reporter: Is it possible to describe the characteristics in the form of a power curve?

 

Alxender Bormann: Yes, A power curve will be measured with the new generation of Enerkite foils in cooperation with independent institutions. A typical rated wind speed is 8.5 m/s or less. 

 

The Reporter: What are Company’s future plans?

 

Alxender Bormann: In the following month, we are completing the technology and working on the aspects such as upscaling, certification and pilot operations. Our aim is to find costumers or partners for pilot plant especially in Europe, US and Asia. 

 

The first commercial product will be lunched after successful pilot operations in 2015: The EK200 - the first wind generator which will be shipped in a 20 ft container. This airborne wind energy system includes an automated launch and landing facility and can be used either in a grid connected version or as a portable off grid solution, including options and interfaces for storage, solar and diesel. Electricity from the EK200 will be more affordable and much more available than the electricity from other small wind turbines or than electricity provided from the utilities. 

 

The main goal of our company is to scale up the technology towards a size, which is able to deliver electricity at levelized cost below 5 ct/kWh or at least at a lower price than by any means of wind / renewable energy. From our current simulations and system models, we may reach this goal already with the EK1M at the scale of 500 kW. Such units would deliver more than 2.2 GWh/yr electricity and would work easily in arrays of 3 units and more. 

 

The Reporter: Is this the future of wind energy?


Alxender Bormann: Yes. I certainly do think that this is one considerable option for wind energy in the future.  

Here are the reasons:

1.     We are saving 95% of the mass

2.     Reducing the carbon footprint down to some 50% 

3.     Standardization of the components allows industrial mass production and easy installation and maintenance. 

 

The Reporter: How complex is the technology?


Alxender Bormann: Well, it is very complex indeed. However operation and maintenance shall be easy, save and efficient.

 

The Reporter: Is it applicable for off grid applications.


Alxender Bormann: Certainly yes. The off grid capability is already implemented in the mobile EnerKite EK30 demonstrator with its scalable 600V, 50 kWh battery storage


The Reporter: What is the size of the wing?


Alxender Bormann:  Today we use FlexFoils with 15 - 21 sqm. Future wings such as for the EK1M will have 35 m wingspan. 


The Reporter: What is the maximum height it will attain? 

 

Alxender Bormann:  EnerKite consider heights above 500 m to be not more economic.  In most cases 300 m will give the desired access to steady and strong winds. However in each case the height might be adopted the local wind conditions and the constraints of the airspace.  


“EnerKite has nearly 15 years industry knowledge, interdisciplinary expertise, respect for nature and technology and the art of achieving large goals in suitable steps mark the holistic way of thinking and working both in the team and by partners. EnerKite works on the lasting success of its products and services and is dedicated to respectful treatment of suppliers. New ideas are implemented with a practical orientation and brought up to product maturity.” 

 

Url: www.enerkite.com/Home.html

 

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