Energy and mankind
Fossil sources of energy ruled and shaped the world. Transition to a more sustainable energy supply is necessary, but "renewables" still cannot compete with fossil fuels, not even the cheapest available alternative: the wind turbines, due to their cumbersome structure and components, heavy weight and high commissioning and decommissioning costs… Moreover turbines can just “skim” the surface of the biggest energy reservoir on our planet: the tropospheric wind, esteemed to be 270 times the mankind primary energy needs.
The Altitude Wind Energy
A very tiny percentage of wind power would be sufficient to satisfy the entire world’s needs of energy.
But the very biggest part of the wind energy is not available close to the ground, where we live...
Winds at higher altitudes (as of 400 meters from the ground) are more powerful and constant than the winds we feel close to the ground.
Conventional wind turbines can't capture this potential due to their design and logistic constraints (cumbersome structure, heavy weight, high commissioning and decommissioning costs).
The AWE technologies
AWE systems aim to realize a "dematerialization" of the wind turbines: the rotor blade becomes a flying device, freed by its cumbersome hosting structure, and can access stronger altitude winds, connected to the ground by a tether.
AWE systems, with less material investment and higher load factor, are more efficient than traditional wind turbines and grant much lower energy production costs.
Some of the AWE systems use soft wings resembling a surf kite or a paraglide, others use hard wings like the wing of an airplane. The designs also differ in many other details. A dominant design has not yet emerged.
The success of AWE systems has been up today hindered mainly because of two main factors:
Aerodynamic performances of the flying device
Scalability and reliability of the overall system
In this arena, Skypull proposes an innovative approach, having developed a groundbreaking new type of lifting system to enhance and maximize payload: a “box wing” drone with multi-element airfoil, characterized by high aerodynamic performances, intrinsic structural robustness, reduced weight, scale-up capability.
The history of AWE
In the late 1970s, Miles L. Loyd had the idea of building a wind generator without a tower, using a flying wing connected to the ground by a tether, much like a kite.
Conventionally AWE - Altitude (or Airborne) Wind Energy concept dates back to Myles Loyd assumptions, but the early years of the millennium saw the first application studies worldwide. Some academic spin-off, scattered around the world, started to work on the AWE concepts and develop the first demonstrating prototypes… In the last decade the activity in the AWE domain increased dramatically. Today hundreds of patents have been filed and tenth of players, ranging from academic institutions to startups and public companies, are active, mainly in Europe and North America. More than 150 MUSD have been spent roughly and players like Google, EoN, ABB, Sabic, Alstrom, NASA, Fraunhofer and others are presently supporting AWE sector.
Nevertheless, most of players are still in a prototype phase and have recorded only short flight logs, each of them struggling with the complexity of the new technology field coupled with the intrinsic limit of the various (patented) flying solutions adopted...