SEOUL -- Winds at higher altitudes are steadier, more persistent and of higher velocity. A government-funded research body has teamed up with South Korea's state electric utility KEPCO to demonstrate aerial wind power generation on an artificial island in the southeastern city of Changwon.
Various mechanisms are proposed for capturing the kinetic energy of high-altitude winds such as kites, kytoons, aerostats, gliders with turbines, sailplanes with turbines, or other airfoils. Energy generated by a high-altitude system may be used aloft or sent to the ground surface.
There are two types of power generation: generating electricity from the sky or using kites or gliders that pull the rope in the air to rotate a ground drum. The Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) has carried out joint research with KEPCO to secure source technologies.
The institute signed a memorandum of understanding with KEPCO and Changwon City for cooperation in the demonstration and commercialization of power generation using high-altitude winds. KEPCO supports the budget so that KERI would conduct research and development, while Changwon provides a testbed.
"Aerial wind power generation is very applicable because it can build systems of various capacities from mobile to large-scale power generation, depending on the purpose and location of utilization," Lee Ju-hoon, a senior KERI researcher, said in a statement on May 4, promising to realize automatic driving technology that combines artificial intelligence and build a demonstration complex that can work with electricity-related companies.
The advantages of aerial wind power generation over tower-type wind turbines, which are limited by various topographical, economic and natural environmental problems, are greater potential for energy sources and fewer restrictions on places, KERI said.
High-altitude wind power generation is possible even in areas where wind turbines were not commercialized due to weak winds and other problems, the institute said, adding that the annual power generation of high-altitude wind energy is far higher than tower-type wind turbines. Power generation using high-altitude winds can minimize problems that hinder securing consent from residents, such as environmental damage, noise and vibration.
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