On Thursday May 1st, NSMG-Net students attended an exclusive webinar on an innovative wind power technology for remote community microgrids. Chris Vermillion, Lead Engineer for Stability and Control at Altaeros Energies, and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of North Carolina, spoke with NSMG-Net students Michael Ross (Project 1.4), Aboutaleb Haddadi (Project 1.1), Mike Quashie (Project 2.1) and representatives from partners BC Hydro and NRCan CanmetENERGY.
The discussion began with an overview of Airborne Wind Energy technologies: kite designs that generate power on the ground, fixed wing designs like Google’s Makani project, and aerostat-based designs like Altaeros’ Bouyant Airborne Turbine (BAT). Each have advantages and disadvantages, with a key advantage of Altaeros’ BAT being its near-vertical profile, and the ability to raise and lower the device for optimum generation. This controllable wind generation could allow diesel generators and demand-response systems on the ground to run more effectively.
Chris explained some of the trade-offs between weight and balloon strength, especially as ice throw had to be taken into account. An Alaska pilot program is scheduled to start next summer. In terms of future research – an area of key interest to NSMG-Net students – Chris highlighted the need to optimise the altitude-adjusting algorithm, based on real load and wind speed data at remote sites. The group also briefly discussed optimal storage technologies for remote sites, trading off the simplicity of thermal-electric storage with pure electric battery storage.
Any NSMG-Net researchers interested in learning more about the technology and opportunities should contact the webinar attendees above, or the Network Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).