Configuration optimization and global sensitivity analysis of Ground-Gen and Fly-Gen Airborne Wind Energy Systems

Filippo Trevisi*, Michael McWilliam, Mac Gaunaa

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    This paper presents an analysis and optimization of Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWESs), designed to maximize the Annual Energy Production (AEP) and, in the second part, the economic profit. A gradient-based optimization algorithm is used to perform the preliminary design of the main AWES sub-systems. A global sensitivity analysis is carried out to study how the design process, represented by the optimization problem, is influenced by aleatory and epistemic uncertainties. In particular, Ground-Gen and Fly-Gen AWESs are studied with a unified model to allow for a quantitative comparison. In the first part of the work, an ideal hybrid AWES design with ground and on-board power generation is considered. With this approach, the common characteristics of Ground-Gen and Fly-Gen AWES designs that maximize AEP are found. In the second part, Ground-Gen and Fly-Gen AWES optimal economic designs are analyzed individually. It is found that a fully developed AWES has strong potential to be highly competitive in the energy market, by providing cheap renewable energy. Fly-Gen AWESs are found to be slightly more profitable than Ground-Gen if the airborne unit is not replaced often. The main physical and economical characteristics of optimal designs are highlighted.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalRenewable Energy
    Pages (from-to)385-402
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • AWES
    • Confiuration optimization
    • Global sensitivity analysis
    • Uncertainty quantification
    • Sobol indices


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