Renewable energy consultancy and service provider, Natural Power, has successfully secured an amendment to the consent for RWE Renewables' airborne wind demonstration site located in Bangor Erris, Ireland. This development paves the way for testing Kitepower's airborne wind energy (AWE) technology, which promises to bring increased efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
In 2021, RWE Renewables initially received planning permission for an airborne wind demonstration site, but a subsequent change in technology choice led to the adoption of Kitepower's innovative kite technology. This shift is notable as it necessitates less infrastructure and is expected to have a more minimal environmental footprint.
The latest enhancements to the site include the addition of a launch pad and a fixed-point ground station, complementing the existing infrastructure, which comprises an access road, hardstanding, a control room, and an electrical connection point.
AWE devices, such as kite or glider-based systems, are a class of wind energy generators that typically connect to a ground-based generator via a tether and winch/drum. By traversing the wind, these devices can cover a significant portion of the sky, capturing a higher amount of wind energy.
Chris Ward, Consenting and EIA Consultant at Natural Power, emphasized the importance of innovation in renewable technologies, stating, “Innovation in renewable technologies is essential for unlocking new markets and accelerating the journey to net zero, so we're delighted to be supporting forward-thinking developers like RWE to bring new ideas to fruition.”
Cathal Hennessy, RWE's Head of Onshore Renewables Development (Wind, Solar, and Storage) for the UK & Ireland, expressed RWE's enthusiasm for contributing to the development of this cutting-edge wind energy technology in partnership with Kitepower. RWE is exploring a range of industry innovations, including airborne wind technology, to potentially complement its existing renewable energy portfolio, which includes offshore and onshore wind, solar energy, and battery storage.
With the inherent advantages of lower capital expenditure and reduced material requirements, airborne wind technology holds the potential to further drive down the cost of energy. It harnesses stronger, steadier, and more constant winds at higher altitudes and can be applied both onshore and offshore, potentially in synergy with other technologies like solar electricity generation. The exploration of these innovations aligns with the broader industry efforts to advance sustainable energy solutions.