How does the technology called airborne wind actually work? One such company, KiteMill, explains the process as a three-step approach:
1. The kite
The kite is a specially designed aircraft composed of composite materials. It has a rigid structure and is designed for durability in high-power winds. It has the form of a sailplane, and 4 propellers are only needed for taking off and landing. Once up in the air, the kite stays aloft by gliding seamlessly on air currents. The kite is designed to move quickly and effortlessly while adding a high tractive force on the tether.
2. The tether
The kite is connected to the ground through a tether. This tether transforms the pull force from the kite to the ground-station generator. It is made of braided polyethylene fibres chosen for their unique endurance capabilities. These, in turn, provide the lowest diameter for the tether; an essential factor for extracting energy from kite turbines. The material of the tether is durable and can be exposed to varying environmental conditions such as moisture and UV light.
3. The ground station
The ground station converts the tractive force from the tether to electricity. This electricity is, in turn, fed into the power grid. A winch in the ground station is connected to the generator, which reels in and out the kite. The control system is also found in the ground station and makes sure all flights are conducted safely and efficiently. It ensures optimal energy production as it controls the kite and the winch. Sensors mounted on the aircraft provide data points for the control system to steer and balance the aircraft. The control system enables the autonomous operation of Kitemill’s entire solution and the subsequent energy production.