Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Kitepower’s mobile battery system charges itself using a giant kite

Distributed generation for worksites and microgrids currently relies on diesel for energy production, which is not only costly but also harmful to the environment. In addition, it can be challenging to ensure a steady supply of diesel in remote locations. To address these issues, there is a growing need to integrate renewables into the energy mix.

A Dutch startup, Kitepower, has introduced the Kitepower Hawk, a wind energy storage solution that offers a sustainable alternative to diesel generators and enables far-reaching electrification for construction sites, agriculture and horticulture, and small island communities.

Kitepower’s solutions replace diesel generators with Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) that can be charged by a highly automated kite. The Hawk system integrates battery energy storage housed in shipping containers with an Airborne Wind Energy System (AWE) in the shape of a hybrid inflatable and a fixed fiber-glass kite, forming the best combination for a strong and lightweight wing.

The container-based storage unit is capable of delivering up to 330 kW of peak power output to charge electric vehicles or machinery and can run for around 10 hours under typical operating conditions.

The 40-60-m2 kite is connected to the ground station (GS) by a Dyneema tether that transmits the mechanical energy of the kite to the BESS. The GS converts the mechanical energy into electrical power and reels the kite in by using the generator as a motor.

According to Kitepower, the Hawk can generate up to 40kW of electricity while in the unwind cycle and consumes 10kW of electricity when being wound back in. The system operates 80% of the time in the unwind cycle and 20% of the time reeling the kite back in. As a result, the system produces a net equivalent of 30kW of continuous power when in operation.

“The Kitepower Hawk is an important step forward for Kitepower,” said CEO Johannes Peschel in a statement. “The system is a perfect solution for smaller businesses in agriculture and construction looking for a sustainable way to generate electricity. The system is easy to install, can produce day and night, and it is highly efficient.”

The HAWK system was created in response to the increasing demand from customers and partners who require a small system that can meet their energy needs throughout the week without having to be flown every day. Battery energy storage systems are being extensively used to support the electrification of vehicle and machinery fleets in many places.

However, diesel generators or non-renewable energy sources are often used to charge these batteries off-site. Hawk, in contrast, charges the battery on-site using renewable energy. This enables construction companies to charge their electric vehicles with locally generated renewable energy. The energy generation process takes place several times a week, such as during inactive hours like at night, and the kite is flown at an altitude of approximately 350 meters.

This mobile renewable energy source can be used completely independently from the grid, making it a highly versatile solution. This makes renewable energy truly mobile and accessible to farming, building, and island communities.

The Kitepower Hawk is now available for pre-order, but there is no information yet on its pricing or availability.