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Maturing Utility-Scale Airborne Wind Energy Towards Commercialization

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Wind energy is key for North-West Europe (NWE) to meet the Paris Agreements and for Ireland to secure a future of net-zero carbon emissions. North-West Europe’s extended coastlines provide huge potential for wind energy generation. However, today’s wind turbines encounter limitations, both onshore (space, public acceptance) and offshore (space, water depth). SMEs in NWE are strongly positioned to develop a novel alternative that addresses these issues: Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES). These systems comprise aircraft tethered to compact ground-based generators and allow new locations for wind energy development to be unlocked (incl. floating offshore, rural onshore). Energy is harvested efficiently, reducing materials, foundations and carbon footprint, while lower visual impact can ease public acceptance. 

BlueWise Marine is part of a consortium led by Mayo County Council and funded by the Interreg NWE Regional Development Fund to bring these systems closer to commercialisation. The MegaAWE Project brings utility-scale AWES ("MW-AWES") closer to the market, readying SMEs for its roll-out in NWE and beyond. It shall achieve this by: 

  •  Demonstrating AWES prototype over an extended duration, to improve investability and secure interest of utilities  

  • Demonstrating the key enabling modules at MW-scale, to derisk planning of commercial prototype demonstration

  • Creating an execution plan for MW-AWES commercial prototype demonstration, to ensure relevant innovation focus (incl. site & user requirements, design guidelines, system sizing & costing), validated by regions & users. 

MegaAWE investment/outputs address the recommendations of the EU-commissioned 2018 Ecorys study on AWES through; 

  • An AWES test hub in Mayo, IE 

  • A precommercial AWES architecture demonstration at 150kW in an on-field pilot site  

  • Three key enabling AWES modules at >1MW demonstrated in a lab environment 

  • Support to 20 Enterprises through the project 

  • “MegaAWE” Platform, which will support MW-AWES development and future roll-out, matching needs & opportunities of regions & users with the solutions of developers. 

MegaAWE will raise MW-AWES from TRL5 to 7, strengthen the innovation capacity of 12 SMEs and secure supply chain & investment towards the next step, commercial demonstration. By 2033, 50 AWES installed (150MW capacity) could then provide renewable energy to 150.000 additional households in the NWE region.