This paper was published in ScienceDirect under the title Airborne Wind Energy Systems: A review of the technologies. It is authored by Antonello Cherubini, Andrea Papini, and Marco Fontana at the PERCRO SEES, TeCIP Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Also, Rocco Vertechy with the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy.
Among novel technologies for producing electricity from renewable resources, a new class of wind energy converters has been conceived under the name of Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWESs). This new generation of systems employs flying tethered wings or aircraft in order to reach winds blowing at atmosphere layers that are inaccessible by traditional wind turbines. Research on AWESs started in the mid-seventies, with a rapid acceleration in the last decade.
A number of systems based on radically different concepts have been analyzed and tested. Several prototypes have been developed all over the world and the results from early experiments are becoming available. This paper provides a review of the different technologies that have been conceived to harvest the energy of high-altitude winds, specifically including prototypes developed by universities and companies. A classification of such systems is proposed on the basis of their general layout and architecture. The focus is set on the hardware architecture of systems that have been demonstrated and tested in real scenarios. Promising solutions that are likely to be implemented in the close future are also considered.
In the last decades there has been a fast growth and spread of renewable energy plants. Among them, wind generators are the most widespread type of intermittent renewable energy harvesters with their 369 GW of cumulative installed power at the end of 2014 . Wind capacity, i.e. total installed power, is keeping a positive trend with an increment of 51.4 GW in 2014. In the future, such a growth could decrease due to saturation of in-land windy areas that are suitable for installations.
For this reason, current research programs are oriented to the improvement of power capacity per unit of land area. This translates to the global industrial trend of developing single wind turbines with increased nominal power (up to 5 MW) that feature high-length blades (to increase the swept area) and high-height turbine axis (to reach stronger winds at higher altitudes) . In parallel, since the beginning of 2000s, industrial research is investing on offshore installations. In locations that are far enough from the coast, wind resources are generally greater than those on land, with the winds being stronger and more regular, allowing a more constant usage rate and accurate production planning, and providing more power available for conversions.
The foreseen growth rate of offshore installations is extremely promising; according to current forecasts, the worldwide installed power is envisaged in the order of 80 GW within 2020 .
For the full 15-page paper: https://goo.gl/wU86Fz
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