Imagine hundreds of glider planes in the sky flying repetitive patterns supplying your daily energy consumption. This is Ampyx Power‘s dream, the runner-up of the 2013 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge after FreshPaper. Ampyx Power claims to disrupt the electricity generation sector by attaching autonomously controlled glider planes to ground-based generators. The so-called PowerPlane flies on an altitude of 300-500 meters depending on where the optimal winds blow. A cable is connecting the PowerPlane to a tether attached to a ground mounted generator. The PowerPlane comes with fully integrated and automated launch and landing capabilities. It is not only in direct competition with fossil-fueled alternatives, the conventional wind turbine is also threatened.
Comparing PowerPlanes with conventional wind turbines
The PowerPlane is expected to produce the same amount of electricity as a 50-meter rotor diameter wind turbine, namely 850 kW. However, the difference is huge if you compare the weight of both systems. A wind turbine weighs 120.000 kg versus a 400 kg PowerPlane including generator. This results in lower transportation, installation and decommissioning costs for the PowerPlane. Perhaps more convincing for local policy makers, the visual and noise impact is also significantly less due to among others the high operating altitudes. And who knows, local farmers might see an opportunity to install a new scarecrow.
Invest in the Airborne Wind Energy sector
The huge potential of the Airborne Wind Energy sector has not gone unnoticed. In May 2013, Google acquired Makani Power after already supplying them with their initial funding in 2006. Ampyx Power has attracted investments from the Dutch Greentech Fund and the Mainport Innovation Fund. Most notable, they have concluded one of the most successful green crowdfunding campaigns with Oneplanetcrowd.nl, collecting almost 330.000 euro from 260 indivuals and 12 organisations. To build on this success, Ampyx Power is offering Subordinated Convertible Loan, specially for small investors. When professional investors step in, the loan is converted into shares which have the possibility for high returns. This is still a very high risk investment, but if you believe in the promise of the market, it might be well worth it.