Airborne wind energy (AWE) is “the conversion of wind energy into electricity using tethered flying devices” (Schmehl 2019.) Pursuit of AWE and airborne wind energy systems (AWES) began in 1980 (Loyd 1980). Interest and investment in AWE have grown substantially in the last decade, with about 70 active research entities including over 20 technology developers globally. This report describes technical analyses of various aspects of AWE and insight gained from dedicated outreach provided to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office to underpin its response to the congressional request for a report on the “potential for, and technical viability of, airborne wind energy systems to provide a significant source of energy in the United States.”
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages96
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-79992


  • airborne wind energy
  • airborne wind energy demonstration and commercialization
  • airborne wind energy siting
  • airborne wind resource characterization
  • techno-economic analysis


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