PowerPlane® systems convert wind power into mechanical power by having an autopilot-controlled glider plane creating pull on a tether by flying repetitive cross-wind patterns at an altitude of 300-600 meters. Conversion to electrical power happens in a ground mounted generator while the tether is extracted. Once the tether has been extracted to full length, the glider plane is controlled to dive to lower altitude, during which phase the tether is retracted. During this reel-in phase, tether tension is minimal and power consumption is only a fraction of power produced during the reel-out phase.
In order to address low wind or extreme weather conditions, fully automated launch & land capabilities are integrated in the system. Weather and sensor information feeds into the system controller, based on which the system controller either automatically generates launching or landing instructions, or prompts a human system controller for a decision.
PowerPlane technology minimises the use of materials required for electricity generation. Commercial PowerPlanes are projected to produce as much electricity as large conventional wind turbines, while achieving weight economies of over 90%. The PowerPlane system replaces the turbine tower and rotor blades by a glider plane and a tether. The generator and electronic back-end will be of similar dimensions as used in the nacelle of conventional wind turbines, but as the generator of a PowerPlane system is ground mounted, foundation requirements are much less. PowerPlane systems require lower transportation, installation and decommissi oning costs, as well as lower operations and maintenance costs than conventional wind turbines.
Apart from its economic properties, visual and noise impact of PowerPlane systems, due to its size and operating altitudes, will be much less than those of other options for electricity generation.