Investment keeps energy start-up company flying

6 Oct 2010

A Dutch start-up company at the forefront of airborne wind energy has succeeded in obtaining second-round financing.

Ampyx Power develops a straightforward airborne wind energy system, which successfully utilises high-altitude winds for energy production called the PowerPlane – a machine that can extract energy from the wind as economically as wind turbines.

The Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s biggest producer of renewable energy and Byte, a Dutch IT company, have both agreed to invest in equal equity shares.

Significantly lower costs

The PowerPlane system uses a glider plane to unwind a winch during flight and thereby propel a generator on the ground. The expected costs of this energy production are significantly lower than those of commonly used wind mills and comparable to grey energy production, according to the Ampyx website.

The principle of operation is based on the aircraft flying patterns in the sky and generating high tension forces in the connecting tether. The system generates power as the cable is unwound from a drum located at the ground. When the cable is fully unwound, the aircraft performs a dive and part of the cable is retrieved quickly in order to minimise power losses.

It is the difference in tension during retrieval that allows net energy to be generated and when the cable is retrieved to its original condition, the process is repeated.

A fully automated power production is expected in late 2010 and the commercial development of the 1MW PowerPlane is expected by 2013.