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Computer model of EnerGliders in the sea.

© Thomas Strieker

Wind energy plays a key role in Germany’s energy transition and is already making a significant contribution to its electricity supply. Offshore wind farms are expected to achieve a total output of 15 GW by 2030. New technologies can not only contribute to this goal but can accelerate the process to get there.

Therefore, the joint project EnerGlider is developing an innovative offshore wind turbine that will reliably supply energy 24 hours a day. This is to be achieved by means of a novel high-altitude wind turbine based on an automated fixed-wing glider. This glider will be tied to a rope that will continuously unwind from a winch; the movement will drive a generator that in turn will produce electricity. Ascending into great altitudes the glider will be able to harvest energy from the high-energy winds.

The four subprojects are dedicated to the various components of the high-altitude wind power plant. In one of them, for example, a floating base station is being developed to enable the plant to be operated at sea. One of the challenges to be overcome in this subproject will be to ensure stable anchoring to the seabed. At the same time, the design of EnerGlider features a modular system ensuring a high degree of mobility and flexibility when it comes to installation: Thus, allowing the installer to make use of the short windows of opportunity of favourable weather conditions.

The project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), will run for three years. In addition to IMPaC Offshore Engineering GmbH, Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr (IAV), Silence Aircraft GmbH and RWTH Aachen University are involved in the implementation of this project.