Airborne Wind Energy

Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) is the technology of converting wind power into electricity with an autonomous tethered aircraft. Deemed a potentially game-changing solution, AWE is attracting the attention of policy makers and stakeholders with the promise of producing large amounts of cost-competitive electricity with wide applicability worldwide. After pioneering experimental endeavors in the years 2000-2010, since the early 2010s there has been a clear technology convergence trend and steady progress in the field. The figure below shows prominent examples of AWE systems.

Today, AWE systems can operate automatically with minimal supervision in all operational phases. A first product is also being commercialized. However, all-round fully autonomous operation still presents important fundamental challenges, conceptually similar to those of other systems that promise to change our lives, such as fully autonomous passenger cars or service drones. At the same time, autonomous operation is necessary to enable large-scale AWE, thus combining challenging fundamental problems with high potential impact on society and economy.

In the field of AWE, the SAS-Lab carries out research on the following topics:

  • Mathematical modeling, both physics-based and black-box;
  • Theoretical analysis of fundamental limitations;
  • System design and operation;
  • Control design at all hierarchical levels;
  • Safety and fault tolerance.