Ampyx Power 2021 in review
Following one of the most disruptive years in Ampyx Power’s history, 2021 has been the year of “adaptation”, of getting into the rhythms of a “new normal”. Although COVID-19 still casts its shadow in all aspects of our life, making it harder than ever to look away from its impact, at Ampyx Power, with a team of 60 talented individuals from more than 20 different nationalities, we stay resilient and have managed to achieve a lot of significant technological progress in the past 12 months.
Let’s take a walk through this unique year at Ampyx Power with our CEO – Fabrizio Nastri.
The year 2021
“If you take an analogy of the racetrack, 2021 is basically the last turn before we arrive at the last part of the track where we can go in full speed until the finish line”
In the year 2021, our main storyline is about building, assembling, integrating, and verifying all systems and subsystems of AP-3. Resting at the Breda International Airport, two of our AP-3 aircraft are now fully assembled and the first of them is essentially 100% integrated with all the electronics, readied to take off for the very first time in 2022. The same story can be told with the ground station in Kraggenburg, where our ground generation apparatus has been in verification for the past few months.
We have made significant progress in the design of the Launch and Land Platform, which will be installed in Bangor Erris – Ireland next year, as part of the MegaAWE- NWE Interreg project. Some of the components of the platform such as the Shifter have already been built as a full-scale prototype.
After a long series of testing and verification, the Shifter has been proven to perform as intended. The next step is to send procurement orders to initiate the manufacturing process. Developed by Ampyx Power’s Mechatronic team, the Shifter system will allow the aircraft to land in a very short space, making it one of our most innovative technological achievements of 2021.
Another innovation of international allure is the Daedalus tether test facility. This 25-m long device, also at Breda International Airport, is used to validate winching and lifetime of the tether for the 1-MW AP-4.
Ampyx Power for more than 10 years has been operating in a very small team, covering a wide range of expertise. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, we have a great variety of competences that are needed and represented, such as Aircraft Structures, Algorithms, Software, Electronics, Mechatronics, but also the Workshop Team, who played a key role in the assembly of the aircraft. This year, to meet the growing demand for verification and testing, we introduced the Verification Team with talented people who have the specific skills needed for the job.
And of course, we cannot downplay the severe impacts COVID-19 leaves on the world, including Ampyx Power. In 2021, the pandemic has dominated our lives since day one. It has severe impacts on both the efficiency and morale of the team. Never before did we see our world become so small, limited to the rectangular shape of blue-light screens. With the nature of our work – building and working with our physical aircraft design, it has proven to be difficult. The constant changes in government guidelines also generated a lot of confusion and frustration in our team.
However, we rose to the occasion.
After more than a year of adapting, we overcame the situation with flexibility and resilience. We went through a lot of trial and error to find the right solution to connect with one another, and to work from home whilst keeping the government guidelines into consideration.
“The team has been very committed and very constructive in trying to find the best way to continue working in this difficult environment. I really want to thank everyone and express my appreciation for the high level of dedication that everybody shows in their work”
Beyond Ampyx Power
Beyond Ampyx Power, 2021 is also a momentous year for the entire Airborne Wind Energy Industry. AWE has been identified as a key technology of the future by many credited research institutes like National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
During an important meeting with other key European players in Airborne Wind Energy, held in Hamburg earlier this year, there were a lot of expressions of interest to collaborate on development and willingness to be transparent about common challenges. As a result, we will write a whitepaper together, to share our story with the rest of the world, and, as an industry, to progress further with our technology.
Some of our peers have received important funding and subsidies to build pilot projects or demonstration projects and the first soft-kite system (by Skysails) has gone commercial. So Airborne Wind Energy is indeed gaining more and more recognition.
“The whole Airborne Wind Energy is really taking shape, growing and gaining maturity and recognition.”
“The year of 2022 will be full speed ahead…”
This very month of December, our partner RWE will start to break ground for the construction of the test site in Ireland. As soon as the site is finalized, Ampyx Power will put our aircraft into action, in a fully representative operational environment. Our Airborne Wind Energy system is expected to be able to operate and produce electricity in all weather conditions.
As we aim to finalize the AP-3 pilot program and warm-up for future programs, we have started an ambitious recruitment scheme to accompany the growth of Ampyx Power and enable us to bring our technology to the market.
“For more than 10 years, a lot of employees and investors have been impatient to see our system operate, in a real mature product. This is going to happen, so we are very excited. We want to thank you all, the employees, investors, and technology partners for having accompanied us all these years. And we are hopeful that in 2022, everybody will see the fruit of our tremendous effort when we start seeing AP-3 flying in Spain, and then in Ireland. For the time being, we wish you a happy holiday ahead.”