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...