E.ON is investigating how airborne ‘kite’ drone technology could extract energy from the fast flowing air streams at high altitude (450m), beyond the reach of sea/land based wind turbines.
The idea is that the machines stay airborne, given lift by the air currents but anchored by cable to drive a power turbine.
The German energy company, which has been looking into the idea for five years, believes the technology could drive down the cost of renewable energy and may ‘take off’ in the early 2020’s.
The costs associated with drone kites should be significantly less than conventional offshore turbines, which have relatively high material costs in foundations and towers. The capacity factor is also expected to be much higher.
E.On is building a test development site in northwestern Ireland and is currently investigating the technology with Dutch firm Ampyx Power.
Testing is due to start in mid-2018 with E.ON investing in Kite Power Systems together with Slumberger and Royal Dutch Shell to the tune of £5m.