Airborne Wind Energy is not new. The idea arose early in the twentieth century, and was published by Miles L. Loyd in 1980, but only when new light materials were developed and computer systems no longer occupied the space of a room but actually fit on a mini-chip, it was possible to further develop this idea. With the arrival of the new millenium, all the ingredients needed to launch Airborne Wind Energy became available.
This is how it started
When flying a kite at Noordwijk beach (the Netherlands) the Dutch astronaut and professor of Technical University Delft (TU Delft), Wubbo Ockels, discovered that he burned his hand when the line slipped. He decided, following Loyd, to further research how this force could be converted into electricity.
At TU Delft, Wubbo Ockels formed a team that worked on developing a kite that harvested electricity from the sky. Team leader Richard Ruiterkamp replaced the kite with a fixed wing which allows for greater scalability and controllability, and thus generating more electricity. In 2008, he founded Ampyx Power in order to develop a system for generating energy based on this principle.
Three generations of prototypes
Ampyx Power has proven its concept with three generations of prototypes (AP0 – AP2) constructed between 2009 and 2013. As of 2014, the company has transformed itself from a R&D start-up into an organisation capable to develop, construct and certify high-tech aviation products. Best-in-class design processes based on Aerospace Recommended Practice are adhered to, analytical toolchains for simulating and optimising product performance and reliability were developed and a state-of-the art knowledge and engineering data management system required for product certification was implemented.
Where are we today?
Today we are with a top-quality international team of over 45 engineers that designed our final, fully functional prototype, AP3, with which reliable and safe continuous operation of an Airborne Wind Energy System will be demonstrated. Construction of the AP3 prototype has started in December 2016, and the AP3 will be fully operational in the course of 2018 after completion of construction and an extensive testing and verification campaign.