Sunday, 31 January 2010

Kite visual tracking progress

Tracking kite position in real time by camera

Here is a little clip showing some basic kite tracking software that I wrote. I'm upgrading it now for improved accuracy and an orientation estimate.

UK gets FIT

Big Day for UK renewables tomorrow?

The details of the UK feed in tariff (FIT) are widely expected to be released tomorrow bu the Departrment for Energy and Climate Change. Designed to complement the Renewables Obligation (RO) by supporting deployment of renewables at a smaller scale <5MW.

The mechanism is guaranteed grid access at a guaranteed price which tapers off as the size of the installation increases so that between 500kW to 5MW it is essentially the same as the ROC price bonus.

I'll post the details here as soon as they come out.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Growth in high altitude wind

Explosive growth in high altitude wind energy

So below is a graph showing my tally of institutions, i.e. companies and universities, working actively on high altitude wind energy. I'm including Marine propulsion. When I have the time I'll try and do a similar thing for investment and for people employed. Note that the figure for 2010 will doubtless grow as I find out about projects that I have been hitherto ignorant of and as new projects get going.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Big news from China

China's first high altitude wind energy project has just been publicly announced.

Worth 400m yuan, or $58m dollars, this article mentions 100,000kW or 100 MW which seems too large scale for a single device, will this be the first HAWP windfarm?

The article says this:

On “2009 International Clean Energy Summit Forum” held last October, Dr. Zhang introduced his core technology principle: the kite ascends like a glider by virtue of wind, generating pull, thus pulling cables, and driving generators to generate electricity; when the kite ascends to the maximum height, the angle of the wings of the kite will be adjusted by the control system to make it descend with its own weight. Then it ascends again to supply electricity, and repeats.  

This seems to suggest that the project is for a relatively simple AOA mediated pumping system, generating on the ground, with no dynamic flying, but details are very thin. The article mentions wind tunnel test facilities. Projected costs per kWh are projected to be 0.22yuwn/kWh vs 0.36yuwn/kWh as a regional average (coal dominated), which would be very impressive at such a large scale given the immaturity of the technology.

This is really interesting and I'm looking forward to see some details, as the lead scientist mentioned-Dr Zhang, has no publications relating to HAWP and I can find no reference to the summit he is supposed to have presented at. The investors Pre-ipo captial partners, have a Chinese only website so no accessible details there either.

Thanks to Joe Faust for this news.

High Altitude Wind Energy Penalised in UK renewable incentive scheme

High Altitude Wind Misses out in UK Renewables Obligation

'Shock' bulletin, goverment advisors class a brand new renewable technology, accessing a hitherto impossible and incomparably larger resource alongside 120 year old horizontal axis wind turbine technology, that will soon be obsolete.

A source within DECC told me that High Altitude Wind Energy will fall in the 'established technology' band, when it patently is not. Why? Well it seems that the classification is driven by language and not by the criteria that DECC claim to use, which are:
  • potential to contribute to penetration of renewbles into the energy mix
  • underlying cost of generation
  • novelty of tech
This is the clear intention of the Renewables Obligation and the Reneable Energy Strategy 2009, so here we have the first renewable tech with the potential to deliver energy cheaper than coal, which desperately needs support in the UK, but wait, it's on shore and it is a wind device, so no, we'll ignore our repeatedly stated criteria, and unlike every other novel system it will be denied the higher funding band.

Yet another opportunity scuppered, yet another own goal for the UK government, hooray for Kafkaesque lunacy....

Companies involved

Some key players in high altitude wind energy (alphabetic)

I thought this might be useful to give an overview of who is involved
CCNR, Sussex University UK
ETH/FHNW, Switzerland
KU Leuven, Belgium
Rowan University, US
TU Delft, Netherlands
Universita di Torino, Italy

Aeroix, Germany
Alstom France/Switzerland
Ampyx Power, Netherlands
Joby Energy, US
KiteGen, Italy
SkyMill, US
KitEnergy, Italy
Makani Power, US
NTS, Germany
SkyWindPower, US
Windlift, US
Zhang Jianjun's Project, China

KiteForSail, US
KiteVes, Italy
Skysails, Germany

Unconfirmed by companies concerned:
Vestas, Boeing

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About Me

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I finished my PhD on Evolutionary Robotics in Airborne Wind Energy applications in 2010. Since then I have been working in industry in the area.