Ireland

Ireland

RWE to launch airborne wind energy test site

RWE plans to trial a 150kW demonstrator project and then a commercial-scale 1GW system at a new test field in Ireland

AWE systems are able to harness stronger and more steady winds at higher altitudes, greater than several hundred metres, resulting in reduced infrastructure costs, RWE explained
AWE systems are able to harness stronger and more steady winds at higher altitudes, greater than several hundred metres, resulting in reduced infrastructure costs, RWE explained

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Renewable energy giant RWE is planning to investigate the potential of innovative airborne wind energy (AWE) technologies by opening its first test centre in County Mayo, Ireland.

Planning permission for the facility has now been granted and construction should begin later this year. 

RWE will build the facility in partnership with Dutch company Ampyx Power, which is developing the new technology. 

The test site will conduct testing, verification and demonstration of a 150kW demonstrator system. This will be followed subsequently by a larger commercial-scale 1MW system. 

During its expected eight year operational life, the test facility will also test other systems from other AWE developers.

“The launch of an airborne wind testing site in Ireland is an early move for RWE into a new technology to generate green electricity” said Katja Wünschel, RWE Renewables’ chief operating officer of onshore  wind and photovoltaics for Europe and Asia-Pacific. 

“Our demonstration project will give us the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the technology being developed and to build valuable relationships with the pioneers and innovators of airborne wind”.

AWE systems are able to harness stronger and more steady winds at higher altitudes, greater than several hundred metres, resulting in reduced infrastructure costs, RWE explained. 

The system being tested by RWE consists of a ground-based winch generator, a launch and land platform, and a small device shaped like an aircraft with a 12-metre wingspan. 

This device is connected to the generator by an ultra-strong tether, generating electricity by drawing the tether from the winch and acting against the resistance of the generator. It is then drawn back in and the cycle continues, producing clean, low-cost electricity.

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