Could Airborne Wind Energy become a $3 billion market? | IDTechEx Research Article

Could Airborne Wind Energy become a $3 billion market?

Airborne Wind Energy employs kites, tethered drones or turbines in balloons to make electricity, accessing more consistent, stronger winds above those reached by wind turbines on land.

Could Airborne Wind Energy become a $3 billion market?
Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) employs kites, tethered drones or turbines in balloons to make electricity, accessing more consistent, stronger winds above those reached by wind turbines on land. The new report Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) 2017-2027 comes as 50 developers seriously plan for viability partly because of onerous emissions laws driving replacement of diesel gensets, fossil fuel power stations and diesel ships. The uniquely low capital cost and easy transportability suggests applications where grid parity is not an issue.
Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx says, "Four developers plan to commercialise their AWE systems in the next four years: others promise sales later. Several will succeed: the market may grow in a similar way to traditional wind turbines."
Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) 2017-2027 is intended for CEOs, business planners, marketing VPs, academics, legislators, commentators, investors and others seeking a balanced, easily read, current analysis of this newly credible option. Emphasis is on commercialisation and the future. There is a good chance of AWE competing with conventional wind power on total cost of ownership but also of it being part of the green alternative to diesel gensets being replaced. AWE alongside solar may power some electric car charging stations, microgrids, remote communities and even energy independent ships causing no pollution instead of being equivalent to up to 30,000 belching conventional cars. Will 10kW versions be viable, as planned by for farmers and remote communities? Is this purely a prospect for 1GW wind farmson-grid with each unit only viable above 100 kW output and sold purely on levelised cost of electricity? We address these questions.
Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) 2017-2027 is disruptive because it could be much less expensive and intrusive than the traditional wind turbine. Indeed, it is capable of much more with its uniquely low capital cost and easy transportability. AWE has moved from a hobbyist curiosity to attracting around $200 million initial investment from giants Google, EON, Shell, Schlumberger, Tata, Softbank and others. Clearly things are changing and IDTechEx, after two years of interviews, visits and analysis by PhD level, multi-lingual researchers, can now make sense of it all, including giving profiles of 25 winners and losers. The report appraises what remains between the proponents and commercial success, including attracting the necessary level of next-stage finance and technical assistance. How much? When?
The report is replete with infographics, tables and graphs clarifying the variety of opportunity and AWE technology. It takes a strictly analytical rather than evangelical approach, pointing out that turbines lifted aloft by helium-filled aerostats make sense in Alaska, where solar cells are pretty useless and wind is sometimes weak. However, it counsels that those targeting cheap electricity for farmers with limited resources will have difficulty competing with diesel unless the law tips the playing field, hassle is reduced or obtaining fuel is problematic.
Harrop adds, "The IDTechEx approach is creative. We believe the new solar roads have a place on polluting commercial ships. In tandem with AWE, we believe an electric ship could eventually become energy independent with zero emissions. We distinguish between AWE applications where the price of grid electricity is critical and where it is irrelevant. Learn the challenges of convincing all interested parties of the safety of these systems. Realistic and improving figures for maintenance, availability and life are crucial."
Impediments are appraised such as many AWE systems currently using significant energy for repeated launch and retrieval and the current lack of endurance, utilisation and reliability data. IDTechEx proposes ways of reducing the intermittency and therefore energy storage needed in an AWE system: it reveals which designs are most predictable and controllable.
Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) 2017-2027 assesses which proponents will be the most promising investments, providing certain limitations are overcome, and how much funding lies between them and success. Learn how the technologies can be leveraged with extending solar panels on the generator and wave power in the offshore support. Could the flying device produce useful solar and wind energy? How realistic is flying much higher? What are the lessons from the proponents that have gone under? What has been said in recent conferences and interviews on the subject?
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Top image: KiteGen