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Powering Remote Villages with Airborne Wind Technology
Remote villages without access to the power grid must rely on diesel or petroleum generators for electricity, which means they have power only when they can get fuel. Windlift develops portable airborne wind energy (AWE) technology for post-conflict reconstruction, disaster relief, and third-world development. The AWE technology uses a flexible airfoil to capture power from the wind. The airfoil is tethered to a base station and the tethers are spooled onto a large drum. The system, which is mounted to a trailer, operates as a long-stroke reciprocating engine. During the generate phase of the cycle, the airfoil is actively flown in a cross-wind manner downwind of the base station, which maximizes the tension in the tethers. As the airfoil moves away from the ground station, the tethers unspool from the drum and drive it to turn a motor/generator. Electrical power from the generator is transmitted to a battery bank that is also mounted to the trailer. When the maximum tether length is reached, the airfoil is oriented into the wind to minimize tether tension and retracted. The net energy gain per cycle is the energy generated during the outgoing stroke minus the energy consumed during the retract stroke.
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