Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Find out more about our robotics and autonomous systems testing and validation facilities.

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Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub

The Catapult has appointed the University of Strathclyde and the University of Manchester to form the Electrical Infrastructure Research Hub.

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Automation & Engineering Solutions

Find out more about our work in robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

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Stay Current

Dig deeper into the biggest issues facing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy with our series of Analysis & Insight papers.

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Live Innovation Opportunities

There are a number of programmes identifying the key technology innovation challenges faced by the offshore renewables industry. Solving these challenges will help drive down the cost of offshore renewable energy, with positive effects for the industry and UK economy. Visit our Live Innovation Opportunities page to find out if your technology has the answer.

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An Introduction to Airborne Wind

Airborne offshore wind ORE Catapult Stephanie Mann

Energy kite developer Makani’s prototype rests on its perch at a test site in
Parker Ranch, Hawai’i. Image: Makani

Ask someone to picture a wind turbine, and most will describe the type with a tall tower and three blades spinning on a horizontal axis.

This is the image that comes to mind for most when we think about wind power – but it is also possible to capture wind energy by flying a tethered device across the wind to produce lift and drag. These devices are referred to as airborne wind energy generators.

Here, electricity is generated by adding lift or drag to the device and passing energy down the tether electrically or mechanically. The lightweight nature of airborne wind allows for a step change in the levelised cost of energy (LCoE), especially when looking offshore. These reductions have been quantified, and the data shows that airborne wind has a potential LCoE of £30/MWh by 2030.

This paper, by Stephanie Mann, provides a high-level introduction to how airborne wind works, the two main technology types, trends in the industry, and explores how airborne wind offers cost advantages when compared to traditional bottom-fixed offshore wind farms.


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