Early and advanced in airborne wind energy

Kitemill has advanced further with the authorities and regulations and is set to become the first company that introduces a commercial plant.

This is scheduled to happen whithin a few months at Lista Fly og Næringspark. Kitemill and first customer have the intention to build 5 units. These will supply a variety of local businesses with energy, which is renewable and represent the start of the Airborne Wind Energy technology introduction which might be necessary to reach a few of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Kitemill has progressed far in getting permission to install permanent fixed plants, thanks to a very solution oriented - Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities, air traffic services and dedicated site owners. Kitemill intend to introduce commercial facilities early as operating experience are given high priority, and the first plants being launched in somewhat smal scale.

Active internationally

- We do not see it as an advantage to be first, neither to be the only commercial operator. We are therefore active in the international environment and has an open dialog with our colleuges in other companies. Through Lista AWE Centre a neutral test centre, competitors will also get velcomed at test facilities at Lista, Norway. We hope to cooperate on establishing industry standards and norms for this technology, says CEO of Kitemill, Thomas Hårklau. http://www.hwn500.de/ is one branche organization Kitemill contribute to which has activites towards industry guidlines.

The background for Kitemill’s technology is complex, yet simple:

Kite-parks as demonstration facilities

Kitemill's plan for the introduction of technology implies first and foremost to establish demonstration farms in cooperation with the governmental incentives for demonstration of new technology. These kite parks can be establish by customers directly, like Kitemill's first delivery, or be marketplaces where customers can buy kite turbines or shares of kite turbines. This product will then be marketed towards private investors as well as profesional investors and utitites.

Learn from Danish success

It is beneficial to involve the civil society in technology introduction. In Denmark, 150,000 Danish individuals today are owners of wind power capacity. This group started the Danish wind power market. Private investors play an important role in bringing up the next generation of energy technology along with the academia, businesses and government, also known as the quadruple helix of innovation. The nation that succeeds with disruptive technologies like Airborne Wind Energy, will most likely succeed in involving the civil society.

Crawl, walk, then run

During early introduction phase, Kitemill focus on building operating experience and a solid track record. It is more cost efficient to accumulate operational experience with small scale plants. Therefore Kitemill will scale up frequently but in small steps, so that relevant operating experience is taken further with each new model.

Kitemill estimates to produce energy below 1.5 NOK / kWh in 30kW scale, in 2017, which is the lower limit of what costly offshore wind energy costs.

in 2018 Kitemill expect to produce at below 1.0 NOK / kWh in 100 kW scale which is where large-scale solar power is.

After the walk and crawl phase is over, the time is time to run fast:

It will definitively happen in a 500 kW scale. Here, Kitemill could produce at below 45 cents / kWh which is around production cost at the full-scale traditional wind turbines located on locations with good wind resources.


Incentives needed

Small scale new technology do need subsidies to operate in most energy markets.

- It is possible for to take the first steps in the commercial introduction with existing technology-neutral support schemes. The complete tehchnology introduction for the whole industry do require technology specific incentives or at least a determined use of current incentives, says managing director of Kitemill, Thomas Hårklau.

Such incentives are needed until the plants to be launched is scaled to about 0.5 MW in 2020, when we expect to touch on energy costs for conventional wind turbines. We also expect to offer higher energy density per area by the year 2030. As we also believe that this technology may have a significant effect on the global energy mix, says Hårklau.


Profitable for society, compared to other energy technologies

The total subsidy to enable a new industry depends on:

  • the cost entry level (Levelized Cost of Energy),
  • the scale this learning curve can be performed at (a operational hour at 100kW scale cost less than a hour at 1000kW).
  • the time it takes the technology to reach grid parity (cost < market price of electricity)

Time required to grid parity, is mostly limited by how long it takes to qualify for competitive capital cost. This is driven be statistic and to build statisic require time. However, parks with limited capacity are expected to gain access to competitive cost capital earlier than larger and more capital incentive installations. The reason it that the consequence part of the risk is less. This is why grid parity can reached by a considerble smaller subsidy volume than former technology introductions.

Graph of LCoE - 1980 - 2020 eC.png

This graph shows the global development of LCoE for solar and wind compared to the scenario for Airborne Wind.