Improving reliability and safety of airborne wind energy systems

Volkan Salma, Felix Friedl, Roland Schmehl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)


Airborne wind energy systems use tethered flying devices to harvest wind energy beyond the height range accessible to tower-based wind turbines. Current commercial prototypes have reached power ratings of up to several hundred kilowatts, and companies are aiming at long-term operation in relevant environments. As consequence, system reliability, operational robustness, and safety have become crucially important aspects of system development. In this study, we analyze the reliability and safety of a 100-kW technology development platform with the objective of achieving continuous automatic operation. We first outline the different components of the kite power system and its operational modes. In the next step, we identify failure modes, their causes, and effects by means of failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) and fault tree analysis (FTA). Potentially hazardous situations and mechanisms which can render the system nonoperational are identified, and mitigation measures are proposed. We find that the majority of these measures can be performed by a failure detection, isolation, and recovery (FDIR) system for which we present a hierarchical architecture adapted from space industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-356
Number of pages17
JournalWind Energy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • airborne wind energy
  • fault detection
  • fault isolation
  • fault recovery
  • FDIR
  • FMEA
  • FTA
  • health monitoring
  • kite power
  • reliability
  • safety


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