Planning permission has been granted for a new test centre to investigate the potential of innovative airborne wind energy technologies.
The centre, located in Mayo, is being developed by global renewables company RWE, in partnership with Ampyx Power, a Dutch company that is developing the wind energy technology.
Airborne wind energy systems harness strong and steady winds at altitudes greater than several hundred metres, but with considerably lower infrastructure costs when compared with wind turbines.
The system being tested by RWE consists of a ground-based winch generator, a launch and land platform, and a small, aircraft-shaped device.
The device, which has a 12-metre (about 40 feet) wingspan, is connected to the generator by a tether.
It draws the tether from the winch and produces electricity by acting against the resistance of the built-in generator. Once the tether is fully extended, the device glides back towards the winch, as the tether is reeled back in.
Retrieving the tether requires just a fraction of the electricity generated, resulting in net power production. This cycle is performed repeatedly, producing clean electricity.
RWE’s test site will first undertake testing, verification and demonstration of a 150 kilowatts (kW) demonstrator system, followed later by a larger commercial-scale 1 megawatt (MW) system.
RWE will also test systems from other AWE developers during the eight-year operational lifetime of its test centre.
Construction is expected to begin later this year and is supported by the EU Interreg North-West Europe funding programme.
The company is also developing new solar and battery storage projects in Ireland and recently announced the launch of its first European-based battery storage project at Stephenstown.
This is one of two projects being developed, with the second located near Lisdrumdoagh.