Ultra-light wing

e-kite has developed a first prototype of an ultra-light wing for its 50kW kite power system. To date, several test flights were carried out with the wing. Initial test results suggest that the steering behaviour and pulling force generated by the wing are above expectations.

The use of an ultra-light wing on a kite power system has several important advantages compared to a soft-structure kite. An ultra-light wing has superior aerodynamic characteristics and it allows for a more efficient reel-in procedure, resulting in higher electricity yields and a broader wind speed range in which the system can operate. Furthermore, the expected lifetime of an ultra-light wing is a lot longer than that of a soft-structure kite.

With the realization of this ultra-light wing prototype, e-kite has made an important step in the development of its first commercial system.

Net electricity production

Today, e-kite formally achieved net electricity production with its 50kW prototype. This event is an important milestone for the company and it demonstrates that e-kite is well on track to commercially launch its first kite power system by early 2016.

Next step is to bring the power output of the 50kW system to commercial levels. This will require further optimization of the flight pattern of the kite. Further, e-kite needs to develop a rigid wing kite, which has superior aerodynamic characteristics resulting in significantly higher electricity yields. Before the end of the year, e-kite expects to assemble a first prototype of such a wing.

Automated flight

Less than 5 months after the first manually-controlled flight, e-kite performed the first automated flight with its 50kW prototype.  The kite was flying the characteristic 8-patterns for a prolonged period, while being controlled by the ground station. This achievement is the result of the significant progress e-kite has made on the development of its control system software.

Going forward, e-kite’s software development will be focused on further automating the electricity production cycle and launch & retrieve procedures. Further, the company will optimize the flight pattern of the kite in order to maximize electricity yield.

First flight

Today, e-kite has made a first flight with its prototype 50kW kite power system. This is a significant milestone in the development of the first commercially viable kite power system in the world. It further shows that the company is well on track to commercially launch its 50kW product in 2016.

Starting point for the development of e-kite’s 50kW model was to design a safe and reliable kite power system that can operate autonomously and that is affordable to small and medium scale investors. Safety risks are minimal due to the use of a soft-structure kite in combination with an extensive range of safety features. The fully-automated kite launch and retrieve system enables autonomous operation, while the simple and robust design with relatively few moving parts results in low investment and operational costs. Another differentiating design feature is the mobility of the system, which allows it to be used for temporary applications.

e-kite’s team was able to develop its 50kW model in such a short time period due to its deep experience in wind industry and thanks to the development support from its professional supplier base. The company also intensively cooperates with universities and other knowledge institutions.

Innovation credit granted

Innovation credit (Innovatiekrediet) was granted to e-kite by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. With this funding, the company has financially covered the development program to turn its 50kW prototype into the first commercially available kite power system.

Kite power systems generate electricity from wind using kites at >50% lower cost of energy compared to wind turbines. The 50kW system that e-kite intends to commercially launch in 2016 will therefore have lower generation costs per kWh than any other form of local electricity generation.

e-kite is extremely pleased with its innovation credit grant, as it also is a recognition of the potential of the company. The application procedure is very selective and innovation credit is only granted to innovative projects with strong commercial prospects.