Thursday, 11 February 2010

CMNA power, new startup

Another US stealth startup, another marine kite company

Only a quick note today, but in one of my sporadic googling sessions I found a new start-up. And I also found out about another marine propulsion startup. It looks like I'm going to have to update that graph sooner rather than later!

The power producer is called CMNA power, their site is amazingly tight-lipped ( boring!) but their incubator at the University of Texas is less shy (hooray!). As this is all I can find, we'll have to wait to see if they have flying or ground based generators.

Much more informative is the site of AirplayKitesailing, who are developing kite systems for catamaran racing, but with an eye on the yacht market later down the line. They were founded by a couple of TUDelft graduates. I'm hoping to meet up with some of these guys later in the month when I'm in Delft, I want a a ride on one of those cats!

Here's a video:

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Festo Cyberkite

Kite Energy in Brushed Aluminum

As the day here is wet and gloomy (but windy!). I thought I'd write a post about my current favorite kite energy project. It was done by a company called Aeroix for the German industrial automation giant Festo, using Festo hardware to construct the groundstation.

As a development system it is almost perfect in that it is not really intended as a generator, but rather as a platform to test the control and tracking system, and on which to trial new kite designs. That is the level where the key development questions can be asked without spending unneccesary money.

Aeroix worked with the technical fabrics that they provide to German kite/paraglider company Flysurfer/Skywalk amongst others, so as to have a buoyant helium filled kite as well as standard ram-air twin-skin bridled foil kite.

Another interesting thing about this project is the is the shape of the kite which echos the bio-mimetic wings Festo have had built for other projects. The bridle is definately complex as you can see in the video. I'd like to see lift and drag curves for the kite but obviously they aren't giving anything away!

Before you get bored, here's the video:

One thing you might be wondering about is why 4 line control from the ground? Well, I guess it wouldn't be much of a showcase for festo's automation gear if all the fancy hardware was 50m+ away from you up in the sky. Aeroix are pushing forward with the project with a more specific generating system called Enerkite, and are sensibly avoiding all talk of MW and planning incremental scaleup. Finally someone with patience! Good luck to the Aeroix team, I can't wait to see their progress.

Monday, 1 February 2010

UK Feed In Tariffs Anounced by DECC

UK finally gets FIT

DECC finally anounced the feed-in tariff bandings today with remarkably positive results. Here is their press release.

In short, it works like this: "Households and communities who install generating technologies such as small wind turbines and solar panels will from April be entitled to claim payments for the low carbon electricity they produce."

This works even is you consume that power yourself. If you consider that the wholesale value of a kWh is about 6p, or 10-12p for domestic rates, the payments work out at a surprisingly high multiple. The UK small wind sector must be overjoyed. The rates do taper down with installation size to roughly match the ROC price by >500kW
Here are the rates for wind only:

Tariff levels for electricity financial incentives

Year 1: 1.04.10- 31.03.11 Year 2: 1.04.11- 31.02.12 Year 3: 1.04.12- 31.03.12  Life (years)
Wind  ≤1.5kW  34.5  34.5  32.6  20
Wind  1.5 - 15kW  26.7  26.7  25.5  20
Wind  15 - 100kW  24.1  24.1  23.0  20
Wind 100 - 500kW  18.8  18.8  18.8  20
Wind 500kW - 1.5MW  9.4  9.4  9.4  20
Wind 1.5MW - 5MW  4.5  4.5  4.5  20
Existing microgenerators transferred from the RO  9.0  9.0  9.0  to 2027

The 20 year guarantee with index linked payments is great for long term security and the BWEA did a great job of lobbying to stretch the bands favourably i.e there is no 50 to 250kW band as earlier proposed.

But here is the but...., note the phrase 'Householders and communities', this presumably is excluding businesess, meaning that High Altitude Wind Energy is still effectively penalised compared to other emerging renewables technologies ( see my earlier rant.. er I mean post about the RO banding). Still, this makes a 99kW or a 499kW system look damn attractive to a landowner or island community.

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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.