Multidisciplinary System Design, Safety and Cost Optimisation of Airborne Wind Energy

AWE systems are inherently technically more complex, requiring high levels of automation. These multi-disciplinary systems, in order to be economically viable for power generation, need to achieve a balance between the level of performance and cost, while ensuring an adequate level of safety.


Compared to conventional wind turbines, automatically operated tethered wings are technically more complex and require higher safety standards. Just the fact that there is no way to immediately put the system on hold illustrates this very well. On the other hand, the flexible tether allows for a much wider operational altitudes, thus better adjustment of the system operation to the available wind resource. In order to be economically viable for power generation, a balance between the level of safety, cost, and performance requirements needs to be achieved. This leads to the requirement of an overall system level model that incorporates models of the environment, the tethered wing, and the various electro-mechanical elements that comprise of the converter. Furthermore, the means to evaluate and compare different safety mechanisms of the system design as well as control strategies needs to be developed through an integrated system model.

The PhD project involves the development of this integrated system model, which will then be utilised to perform multidisciplinary optimisation for the overall system safety, cost and performance. All model components are validated and bench marked against existing technology demonstrators. Furthermore, a detailed cost model is included and the effects of certification, permitting, safety requirements and environmental sensitivity will be taken into account. As a typical application the approach will be used to analyse and assess the performance and effectiveness, as well as reliability and operability of typical design variants, system scales and array configurations under different operational constraints and requirements.

PhD Researcher

Ashwin Candade is a PhD candidate with the Delft University of Technology, working at EnerKíte, Berlin as part of the AWESCO MCF ITN. Following his bachelors degree in Mechanical engineering from SRM University, Chennai, he worked for about 2 years at the National Aerospace Laboratories, India. He then came to TU Delft, where he did his Masters in Aerospace Engineering, in the Flight Performance and Propulsion track. For his master thesis, he performed an experimental aerodynamic and aeroacoustic investigation into the interaction effects between a rotor slipstream and a trailing pylon. His research interests include multidisciplinary optimisation, simplified aerodynamic and structural models, knowledge based systems and off late, risk analysis and mitigation.


Dr.-Ing. Alexander Bormann, 46 years old Aeronautical Engineer, is co-founder and CEO of Enerkite. As entrepreneur, pioneer and visionary of airborne wind energy he builds on more than 20 years of experience in Aeronautical Engineering and Wind Energy. Particular expertise in fatigue, dynamics of structures and materials.

Dr.-Ing. Roland Schmehl is Associate Professor at Aerospace Engineering, PhD in computational fluid dynamics, postdoc at ESTEC/ESA, experience in multiphase flow, liquid spray physics, low-emission combustion, rocket propulsion, multiphase flow, fluid structure interaction, head of the Kite Power Research Group at TUD since 2009, co-editor of first scientific textbook on Airborne Wind Energy published by Springer, member of program committee of Airborne Wind Energy Conferences 2011 and 2013, speaker at TEDx conference.

Dipl.-Math. Max Ranneberg, 29 years old Mathematician and graduate from Technical University of Berlin, is responsible for simulation, control, software and IT issues. To accelerate the wing design process he developed a vortex-lattice method for wing aerodynamics that uses non linear airfoil data.