Q: What happens to the KPS system during weather extremes, e.g. lightning, snow, very strong winds?
A: The kites fly through the sky at speeds in excess of hurricane wind speeds, so there is no requirement to cease operations in high wind speeds.
Snow will have little impact on kite performance. Icing in cold damp, conditions could be an issue, especially if the wings were inflexible. The KPS wing is a hybrid (i.e. fabric wing on a stiff structure to hold the aerodynamic shape), the wing does distort slightly when flying. This distortion will help shed ice, similar to a leading edge pneumatic inflation system on aircraft wings and propellers.
In the event of lightning, the kites will be recovered to minimise the risk of lightning damage. The kites can be automatically recovered and stored in less than 5 minutes. Automated lightening detection systems using radar and meteorological measurements are commercially available.
Q: What if a tether fails?
A: The KPS system uses a single tether to reduce drag. In the event of a tether failure there are two modes of kite recovery. If the kite is still capable of flying the onboard control system takes control and flies the kite to a pre-programmed landing location away from the array. The ground system detects that there has been a tether failure and winds the remaining tether back on to the drum.
If the kite cannot fly safely, an on board safety release system cuts the bridle to force the kite to fall to a safe location as quickly as possible.
Q: How many people do you need to operate the system?
A: The systems are totally autonomous, like a conventional wind turbine. For real time operation no manual intervention is required. However, the operation of all power generation systems is monitored, KPS arrays will be monitored remotely.
In the event of any fault or alarm condition, the affected system will send an alarm to the monitoring station.
Q: How fast can the KPS system be deployed?
A: The target time for deployment of an onshore 1MW system is less than one day. This is based on the system being delivered on site in two standard ISO containers.
Offshore systems will be assembled on the quayside and towed to the array location, once at the array location they will be connected to pre-installed moorings and a power cable riser, this connection process should take 30 minutes. It will take less than 20 minutes to decouple the system to tow it back to shore for maintenance.
Q: How does the KPS system impact the natural environment?
A: This is an area of ongoing research. The main area of concern will be birds, the initial assessment suggests that the impacts should be equivalent to or less than current wind turbine technology. The visual impact of the system should be lower.