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Could drones replace wind turbines?


A Dutch company is developing drone technology designed to capture wind energy cheaply and have less impact on the environment.

Ampyx Power is being backed in testing its eighth and final prototype by energy giant E.ON – who want to lead the way in adopting airborne wind energy technologies.

Explaining how it works, Ampyx Power Commercial Director, Pim Breukelman said on YouTube: “It is the wind turbine blade tips that provide the most energy – our system replaces this part. We get the same yields without the vast amounts of concrete and steel because we can harvest at higher altitudes with much less material, so the costs are low. We do this with a drone, a winch, a generator and a cable. The drone is powered by the wind, and pulls the cable that rotates a winch. And the winch drives a generator that generates renewable energy.”

E.ON and Ampyx Power will work together to advance the 2MW Airborne Wind Energy System (AWES), which will be specially made to fire up the first generation offshore wind parks that have come to the end of their lifespans.

Pim said the pair will now build the last prototype together and test it in Ireland. “We will demonstrate our commercial product there from 2020 before we move the operations offshore.”

Frank Meyer, SVP B2C Solution Management and Innovation at E.ON, added: “E.ON has been looking into Airborne Wind technologies for five years and we believe it has true game changing potential. It supports one of our overall targets to drive down cost of renewable energy, and also allowing production of renewable energy at locations where it is currently not economical and technical feasible today. While in principle we are technology agnostic, we consider this cooperation with Ampyx Power a major step in our efforts to take a leading role in furthering the promising emerging Airborne Wind Energy sector.”

Anyone interested in backing this venture can support the company through its crowdfunding page.

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