Many engineers who take a GWO working at heights course do so in-order to gain the GWO course accreditation and improve their at height working competencies for jobs involving wind turbine maintenance, however there may be some other structures that will harness the power of the wind for energy.
Energy giant E.ON is among the first to invest in a prototype of a new kind of wind power generator, which uses an airborne kite system. A demonstration of the technology at an offshore site in Ireland secured their backing by showcasing how the fixed sail can fly at altitudes of 450ft and generate electricity.
For E.ON, it could represent an alternative to traditional offshore wind power, as they say it has much lower costs involved in production, as well as maintenance, according to Energy Live News. In fact, it’s believed they are significantly cheaper to produce and that they may not need government subsidies in order to be afforded.
The energy provider is excited to have entered this potential technology at an initial stage, and in committing to it they will dedicate funds to developing the technology further. Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, CEO of E.ON Climate & Renewables, said that the investment met with the companies’ goals of driving down the cost of renewable energies: “In addition to making airborne wind competitive to conventional wind power, we would like to work with authorities and legislators to pave the way for introducing this exciting technology and eventually make it eligible to participate in tendering processes.”
So how does this airborne technology developed by Ampyx Power work? This particular version of airborne energy generation uses drones tethered to a central base. The drones fly in a continuous cross-wind figure of eight, turning a winch that drives a generator.
For the managing director of Ampyx Power, Wollbert Allaart, attracting interest from market leaders is a great validation for their team’s hard work. “The clear proof of market interest inspires our team of almost 50 engineers who are working on product development since 2014, after we have proven our concept in the initial five years of our existence,” he commented.
E.ON has form for investing in similar affordable alternatives, such as another kite based technology back in 2016. The technology operates using a system where the kite pulls a cable spool from a drum, which in turn powers a generator.
It’s believed that once airborne technology has been perfected and commercialised in an offshore setting, it could also be given to similar onshore farms in the vein of traditional wind turbines.
Of course, no matter the result of this new form of wind energy generation, wind turbines are here to stay and will remain a key part of our renewable energy production for a long time. What will perhaps be more interesting is to see the skills sets needed in order to maintain and operate these new forms of power generation.