Swiss company TwingTec has developed and launched the first full proof-of-concept system of Airborne Wind Energy (AWE). Using energy drones that launch and land on tethered ground generators, they have devised a new way to harness the kinetic energy of wind. This tethered wing (Twing) technology holds many advantages over wind turbines, which can greatly expand the capacity of wind energy globally.
PROBLEM ADDRESSED. Wind power is a proven clean source of energy and will be an integral part of reaching climate targets (with the IEA estimating it will need to increase 11x current levels by 2055). But exploiting the full potential of wind is not possible with conventional turbines as they are expensive and often impossible to install in remote locations or off-shore. Acquiring land for wind farms is another big obstacle, with wind farms typically needing about 5x the land of fossil fuel plants to generate the equivalent amount of energy. New green technologies are needed.
SOLUTION. Untapping additional wind resources will add a vast impact on CO2 reduction of 5+ Gt/year alongside a multi-billion-market not viable to wind turbines. TwingTec’s energy drone system uses much less material than wind turbines, can generate more energy by reaching higher altitudes and do so at sites where turbines cannot be built.
THE MARKET. The most obvious immediate market for TwingTec is off-grid, such as mining companies, and remote communities that use expensive and polluting diesel generators. (newswise.com/articles/wind-power-from-the-sky) Long-term, the company will scale-up off-shore and they hope to generate a significant amount of Europe’s clean-energy.
TwingTec has identified their total addressable market as EUR 360 Bn/year. They are preparing for market entry in 2025. Partners for commercialization are lined up, product market fit with industrial customers is done and LOIs are signed (i.e. energy companies). The serviceable obtainable market they have identified is EUR 8 Bn/year within a
maximum 10 year time frame. Decentralized on- and off-grid power markets is EUR 70 Bn/year. Hybrid utility plants with wind turbines or PV is EUR 90 Bn/year. Floating offshore wind power is EUR 200 Bn/year.
EVIDENCE. TwingTec has disruptive energy cost reduction potential over diesel, wind and PV based on a validated performance simulation and detailed cost models.
According to physicist and TwingTec Co-Founder Rolf Luchsinger, “during the field test in the Jura, we were able to show that we can take off and land on a platform and produce electricity fully automatically.” No company has ever succeeded in doing this before. (innosuisse.ch/inno/en/home/success-stories/funding-examples/innovation-projects/twingtec.html)
THE TECHNOLOGY AND ORIGINS. Various experiments and types of Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) systems have been in development for decades but have yet to be commercialized. As the first company to create a mobile wind power plant, TwingTec is poised to be one of the first commercially viable AWE options.
At the Center for Synergetic Structures at EMPA and the Swiss Federal Institute for Material Science and Technology, Luchsinger led the development of ultra-light wings for more efficient energy harvesting. Once his team realized that these wings were perfect for harnessing winds at untapped altitudes, they started TwingTec in 2013.
The company has developed a wind energy conversion system by designing a drone tethered to a winch. As the drone is carried by the wind, the tether drives a generator via the winch. This entire flight and energy generation process is fully automated and uses smart sensors and software to adapt to all weather conditions. When the wind picks up, the drone launches into the air and flies in a cyclical pattern. When the wind stops, the drone lands.
Numerous start-ups and teams from universities are developing solutions for this type of energy generation and are all members of the Airborne Wind Europe association, showing how promising this technology is in the clean-energy sector. (newswise.com/articles/wind-power-from-the-sky)
George Hanna | CEO
Rolf Luchsinger | Co-Founder + CO0 a.i.
Corey Houle | Co-Founder + CTO
FINANCE. TwingTec has been funded by venture capital and grants but much more capital is needed to commercialize. Private investors and partners from the energy industry are now being sought.
The company is currently raising EUR 5M in a post-seed equity round and planning a subsequent much larger Series A raise in 9 months to finalize the build of the first commercial scale product.
At industrial mass scale, TwingTec can potentially surpass 1-billion-euro yearly
revenue before the end of 2030.
IMPACT POTENTIAL. The TwingTec mobile energy plants have 2x a higher capacity at half of the current energy production costs of turbines, so once off-shore is developed, there is an almost unlimited resource potential.
In the North Sea, floating wind energy solutions have the potential to produce up to 4x the current electricity consumption in EU and UK.
CURRENT STATUS AND MILESTONES. The company is preparing for market entry in 2025; partners for commercialization are lined up, product market fit with industrial customers is done and LOIs are signed (i.e. energy companies).
TwingTec owns the core patents related to emerging AWE standards. (newswise.com/articles/wind-power-from-the-sky)
Their pilot projects with energy drones have demonstrated the reliability of the technology in all conditions. Larger drones are needed in order to be commercially feasible and target off-grid markets. Currently their goal is to further develop the concept of their first product, the TT1000, which will be the world’s first mega-watt scale, mobile, AWE system. The concept and pre-design of a sub-scale commercial demonstrator will be launched in 2023. In addition, they will be onboarding new strategic partners, scaling the team and advancing key discussions with governments and regulatory bodies. TwingTec will be both a supplier of disruptive wind technology as well as, over time, a supplier of energy as a service.
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