The quest for clean and renewable energy sources found tremendous potential in wind power. So far, it has been harvested mostly by wind towers, which use only wind currents close to the ground (bellow 200m of height). Since low altitude wind currents are slow and intermittent, most wind farms operate, on average, 25-35% of their capacity. This represents a severe limitation to current state-of-art wind power technology, as towers can hardly be taller than 130m without prohibitive costs and insurmountable technical difficulties.
To bypass these difficulties, it is proposed to perform R&D in a multitude of technology fields such as materials, aerodynamics and control, further developing a wind power system capable of harnessing the energy potential of high altitude wind without the need for heavy towers or expensive elevated nacelles: we call it HAWE (High Altitude Wind Energy).
HAWE consists of a buoyant, rotating, cylinder shaped, airship, anchored to a ground station by a tether cable operating a two phase cycle. During the power production phase the Magnus effect on the rotating cylinder generates lift, pulling up the tether cable which, at the ground station, is in a winch drum driving a flywheel connected to an alternator producing electricity. When the tether cable is fully unwound, the recovery phase starts - as the cylinder rotation ceases and the cable is reeled back to its initial position decoupled from the flywheel, completing a cycle. This is performed continuously.
The successful implementation of this concept will increase the share of renewable energy in Europe since, the achievement of the goal to produce renewable energy at competitive prices with coal derived energy, should lower its cost. A high security of supply, a cleaner environment, and the possibility to keep Europe as a global leader in wind power, are other benefits of this technology.
Fields of science
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