Design and Experimental Characterization of a Pumping Kite Power System

  • Rolf van der VlugtEmail author
  • Johannes Peschel
  • Roland Schmehl
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


The pumping kite concept provides a simple yet effective solution for wind energy conversion at potentially low cost. This chapter describes a technology demonstrator which uses an inflatable membrane wing with 20 kW nominal traction power on a single-line tether. The focus is on the innovative and scientifically challenging development aspects, especially also the supervisory control and data acquisition system designed for automatic operation. The airborne hardware includes a Kite Control Unit, which essentially is a remote-controlled cable manipulator, and the inflatable wing with its bridle system allowing for maximum de-powering during the retraction phase. On the ground, the drum/generator module is responsible for traction power conversion while constantly monitoring and adapting the force in the tether. The control software includes two alternating autopilots, one for the lying figure eight maneuvers during tether reel-out and one for the reel-in phase. As a result of monthly test-operation since January 2010, large quantities of measurement data have been harvested. The data acquisition and post-processing is presented and discussed for representative conditions. The power curve of the system and other characteristic operational parameters are determined by a statistical analysis of available data and compared to the results of a theoretical performance analysis.


Wind Velocity Elevation Angle AIAA Journal Cable Tension Main Cable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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The financial support of the Rotterdam Climate Initiative, the Delft Energy Initiative and the province of Friesland is gratefully acknowledged. The authors would like to thank Bryan Franca for his contribution to the power curve model and Marien Ruppert for his contribution to the acquisition and postprocessing analysis of operational data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf van der Vlugt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johannes Peschel
    • 1
  • Roland Schmehl
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Aerospace EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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