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HEPL-KIPAC Experimental Seminars

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kenneth Jensen

Control Systems Engineer
Makani Power, Inc.

High-altitude Wind Power

Abstract: At just 500 m above the ground, the average power density of the wind is double that at 100 m where wind turbines typically reside. This makes high-altitude wind one of the most concentrated forms of renewable energy after hydro-power. Building conventional wind turbines at this height is uneconomical, which begs the question: how do we harness this concentrated and completely untapped resource? Makani Power is developing a novel airborne wind energy system (AWES), which consists of a tethered wing (i.e. kite) with mounted turbines. Propelled by the wind, the wing travels in a circular path (similar to the tip of a conventional wind turbine blade). Power is extracted from this motion by the wing-mounted turbines and transferred to the ground via high-voltage lines in the tether. Due to the efficient use of material in this design and the higher capacity factors afforded by the faster, steadier winds at altitude, we expect this system to have a levelized cost of electricity below that of conventional wind turbines.

Bio: Kenneth Jensen is Ccontrol Systems engineer at Makani Power, a high-altitude wind energy startup company in Alameda, CA. Harnessing high-altitude wind requires sophisticated tethered aerial vehicles, which must be actively controlled to remain stable. Kenneth's job at Makani is to develop the control systems that keep these vehicles flying safely and productively without human intervention. Kenneth holds Bachelor's and Doctorate degrees in Physics from MIT and U.C. Berkeley. His past research involved creating advanced sensors and signal processing elements from new nanostructured materials. However, it was his passion for sailing and appreciation of the power of wind that finally swept him to Makani Power.


Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location: Physics and Astrophysics Conference Room 102/103

Light refreshments available 4:00pm; Presentation begins 4:15pm.

Open to All