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UC3M and CT inaugurate a laboratory and test centre for airborne wind energy systems

Within the framework of a joint research chair


The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the company CT have presented the AWES-Lab and AWES-Flight Test Centre infrastructures at the University's Science Park, which will be used for research on airborne wind energy systems (AWES). Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) are an innovative technology in renewable energy generation that require knowledge of advanced aeronautical technologies. Researchers in the area predict that this technology will play a key role in the future due to its lower investment costs.

La UC3M y CT inauguran un laboratorio y un centro de pruebas de sistemas de energía eólica aerotransportada

During the opening event, which was attended by, among others, UC3M's Deputy Vice Rector for Innovation, Transfer and the Science Park, Mario Merino Martínez, and the General Director of CT, José Evelio Jiménez, the main characteristics of these new infrastructures and projects were presented. In addition, other topics were addressed, from the Community of Madrid's policies to support business R&D&I and its open innovation ecosystem, to the potential and current situation of AWES as a strategic technology for Europe. The event culminated with a visit to and presentation of the AWES-Lab. The attendees observed first-hand the Mobile Test Unit used by the two teams in flight tests, and the data collection method which is used to subsequently train the artificial intelligence models that control the aircraft. The project is currently moving towards the goal of having a ground-gen prototype ready by spring 2024.

In Spain, UC3M has been the pioneer in the development of AWES technologies and, working together with CT since 2021, they have developed several projects and infrastructures, consolidating their knowledge of this new technology and positioning Madrid at the top of the AWES industry. In fact, UC3M and the company CT have recently established a joint research chair to strengthen R&D&I work in this field, whose goal for 2024 is to build a complete prototype of an AWE yo-yo machine in Spain.

The new prototype will be manufactured and integrated in the Aerospace Engineering Department's AWES-Lab. Since it is located in the UC3M Science Park, where they also have a hangar, they will have the necessary space to carry out research tasks. "In addition, since the university's startups are located in the Science Park, the AWE research line will be connected to an innovation and transfer environment", said Gonzalo Sánchez Arriaga, one of the Chair's directors, a lecturer in UC3M's Aerospace Engineering Department. "AWES are disruptive technologies that operate at high altitude and generate electrical energy. They combine classic electrical engineering and aeronautics disciplines, such as the design of electrical machines, aeroelasticity and control, with other more recent and unconventional disciplines related to drones and tether dynamics," he adds.

Furthermore, the chair also promotes the creation of the AWES-Flight Test Centre. "We hope that it will act as a magnet for companies in the industry, given that the idea is to develop an infrastructure where AWE companies can operate their prototypes without interruption, in a controlled environment, and surrounded by an auxiliary industry that provides support," says the other head of the Chair, David Santos Martín, lecturer in UC3M's Electrical Engineering Department.

According to AgustínArjonilla, AWE Systems Manager at CT, "this technology is expected to play a key role in the future due to its lower investment costs. At CT we are committed to embarking on this project, as we have capabilities in all these unique areas within the European aeronautical sector, as well as vast experience in more than 200 national and international renewable energy projects. This is an industry that requires heterogeneous and advanced knowledge both within aeronautical engineering – for example the conceptual design of aircraft, and computing – such as advanced modelling and simulation – and which, finally, requires advanced technologies in the generation, storage and distribution specific to renewable energies".

This opening is the prelude to the Airborne Wind Energy Conference 2024, the world's most important event in the field of AWE technologies, which has chosen Madrid as the venue, with UC3M as the hosting institution.

CT is a leading technology company, providing innovation and engineering services in the aeronautical, space, marine, automotive, rail, energy and industrial plant industries. CT pushes the boundaries of technology through innovation, and takes efficiency to the next level by covering the entire product lifecycle, from design and manufacturing to after-sales support. With more than 35 years of experience, CT's success today is driven by more than 1,800 expert engineers spread across seven countries, on three continents.

UC3M is a Spanish public university that excels in research, teaching and innovation. It is among the best universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2024 and among the best universities for the employability of their graduates, according to the latest edition of the Times Higher Education (THE) Global University Employability Ranking. UC3M is the first university in Europe to obtain ACEEU dual accreditation for its contribution and impact on the industrial and social fabric, and it also has other accreditations and quality awards, such as the EUR-ACE seal in the field of engineering or the AACSB accreditation in business and finance programmes. Its Aerospace Engineering Department is currently developing numerous cutting-edge lines of research, including the AWE systems research group.

Algunas personas presentes en la inauguración