Six-degrees-of-freedom simulation model for future multi-megawatt airborne wind energy systems

Dylan Eijkelhof*, Roland Schmehl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


Currently developed airborne wind energy systems have reached sizes of up to several hundred kilowatts. This paper presents the high-level design and a six-degrees-of-freedom model of a future fixed-wing airborne wind energy system operated in pumping cycles. This framework is intended to be used as an open-source reference system. The fixed-wing aircraft has a span of 42.5 m and produces a nominal electrical power of 3 MW. The ground station is modelled as a winch with a rotational degree of freedom describing the reel-in and reel-out motion, constant drum diameter and drive train inertia. A quasi-static approach is used to model the relatively stiff tether. The tether is discretised by 16 segments with variable length to account for reeling. A tracking controller ensures the kite's flight path during the autonomous pumping cycle operation. The controller alternates between crosswind figure-of-eight manoeuvres while reeling out and gliding on an arc-shaped path towards the ground station during retraction. The operational and controller parameters are determined using a CMA-ES evolution algorithm to maximise the average cycle power of a specific kite design at different wind speeds and given operational constraints. The algorithm identifies optimised flight paths for a range of wind speeds up to 30 m s−1 leading to a power curve with a cut-in wind speed of 10 m s−1 at operating altitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • 6 DoF rigid body kite
  • Airborne wind energy
  • Airborne wind energy power performance
  • Airborne wind energy systems
  • Reference model
  • Tether model


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  • NEON: New Energy Outlook for the Netherlands

    Alkemade, F., Bauer, P., Qin, Z., Chandra Mouli, G. R., Yadav, S., Schmehl, R., Hoekstra, A., Chandra Mouli, G. R., Creatore, A., Renes, R. J., Steinbuch, M., Lurkin, V., Rasouli, S., Bonnema, M., van de Coevering, P., Wijnands, K., Roes, M., van Gool, P., Diercks, G., Bekkers, R., Lavrijssen, S., Hofman , T., Loorbach, D., van Lelyveld , M., Sanaz Kaschny, L., Loomans, N., Silvas, E., Van Woensel, T., Salazar, M., Labee , P., Buchel , S., Beemer , E., Pereira Marca , Y., Joshi, R., Rosero Abad , R. A., Clemente , M., Borsboom , O., Choi , Y., Kiemen , M., Schmidt, H. S., Eijkelhof, D., Maharjan , P., van Druten, E., El Feiaz , A., Paparella , F., Yadav, S., Siadati , S., Khaleghparast , S., Tamis , M., Shekhar , S., Hanselaar , C., Damianakis, N., Aria , D., Reyes Dreke , V., Gong , S., Pouresmaeil , K., Mukherjee , K., de Vries, G., Stolle, K. & Leferink, T.


    Project: Research

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