Harnessing upper level wind The fl oaters potential can be driven to even great er heights because the wind blows more intense ly and persistently at higher altitudes That s why modern wind turbines are installed on towers that are as tall as possible But there are limits to how tall they can be so diff erent ideas are needed One of them is airborne wind power generation see right hand column These machines look com pletely diff erent than the customary three blad ers Just like kids kites airborne wind turbines are tethered and climb high into the sky The teth ers however are up to 600 meters 1 970 feet long and have to resist awesome forces Al though the commercialization of airborne wind energy systems is not yet in sight its advantag es are impressive especially their minimal use of materials They neither need a tower nor lengthy blades and the foundation can be a lot more light footed too Best of all though is the fact that thanks to their higher yield two megawatt airborne wind power systems could achieve high er annual electricity outputs than conventional three megawatt wind turbines This is precise ly the argument Fort Felker CEO of airborne wind power pioneer Makani uses to promote the tech nology as one that enables more energy to be har vested with less powerful systems Although numerous airborne wind energy systems have already been deployed all of them strictly speaking are still prototypes Some of the technologies they use exhibit major diff erences Two basic approaches have emerged One of them features an airborne generator producing in fl ight electricity which is then conducted to the ground via special tethers that simultaneously transport the electric power The other approach prefers power generation on the ground While the kite or wing rises it reels off a rope that in turn drives a generator producing power in the process This principle is also referred to as yo yo because the wing keeps being retracted without generating energy during this phase Master of the airways is the U S company Makani that was supported by Google for many years At the moment the Americans M600 fl yer features a carbon fi ber wing with a length of 26 meters 85 feet hanging on a rope Ideally in other words in adequate wind conditions eight generators installed on the wing deliver an impressive output of 600 kilowatts High in the wind In upper level winds companies like Makani pictured here harvest up to 50 percent more energy with systems that are actually less powerful than others 86

Vorschau Schaeffler tomorrow 02-2020 EN Seite 86
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