Title: High-altitude wind energy using controlled tethered wings
Abstract: Sustainable energy generation is one of the most urgent challenges that mankind is facing nowadays. Unfortunately, the actual renewables are not competitive with respect to fossil sources due to the high costs of the related technologies, their variable and non-uniform availability and their low power density per unit area. Thus, a breakthrough would be needed in renewable energy generation to foster its application and to produce everywhere large quantities of cheap, green energy. Such a radical innovation may be obtained with the technology of high-altitude wind energy. The idea, firstly investigated about 30 years ago but only recently developed by some research groups around the world, is to exploit the aerodynamic forces generated by automatically controlled tethered wings (e.g. power kites). Such wings are able to reach much higher altitudes than the actual wind turbines, where stronger and more constant wind can be found practically everywhere. The generated forces are then converted into mechanical and electrical power by using suitable devices kept at ground level. Automatic control is a key point of this technology, since the system to be controlled is open loop unstable, highly nonlinear and subject to operational constraints. In this seminar, the main characteristics and the potentials of the outlined concept of high-altitude wind energy will be described, through the presentation of the results obtained so far in several research projects at Politecnico di Torino, including theoretical analyses, numerical simulations and experimental activities.
Bio: Lorenzo Fagiano received his Master's degree in Automotive Engineering in 2004 and the Ph.D. degree in Information and System Engineering in 2009 from Politecnico di Torino, Italy. In 2005 he worked for Fiat Research Centre, Italy, in the field of active vehicle systems. In 2007 he spent a three-months visiting period in the Optimization for Engineering Center (OPTEC) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Lorenzo Fagiano is currently a Marie Curie fellow at Politecnico di Torino and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His main research interests include high-altitude wind energy generation using controlled tethered wings, constrained robust and nonlinear control, set membership theory for control purposes and automotive control systems. Lorenzo Fagiano is co-author of about 40 papers published in international journals, conference proceedings and book chapters. He is recipient of the ENI award "Debut in Research" prize 2010, of the Maffezzoni prize 2009 and of a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship.
Host: Mustafa Khammash