On March 2-3, 2021, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a virtual workshop to evaluate the status, potential development, and technical viability of AWE systems as a source of energy in the United States. Stakeholder input provided at the workshop will contribute to the report to Congress. This report summarizes key workshop findings, current technology research and development activities in the United States, and opportunities and potential modes of collaboration and coordination for future technology research and development activities. The workshop focused on U.S. stakeholders in AWE, with approximately 100 experts and industry stakeholders from AWE technology developers, operators, engineering firms, consultants, government, national laboratories, and university researchers. The workshop began with an explanation from DOE's Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) Technology Manager, Ben Hallissy, of the context and purpose of the workshop, including a request from Congress that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) deliver 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, including a summary of research, development, demonstration, and commercialization needs, including an estimate of Federal funding requirements, to further examine and validate the technical and economic viability of airborne wind energy concepts over the 10-year period." The workshop began with brief introductions from attendees who explained their interest in AWE. Nicolas El Hayek of Planair summarized the proceedings from the AWE workshop held in September 2020 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Task 11. This was followed by a presentation by Roland Schmehl of TU-Delft summarizing European AWE R&D efforts. Chris Vermillion of North Carolina State University and Jason Jonkman of NREL presented an overview of U.S. R&D efforts. Then five panelists discussed AWE markets, sizes of AWE systems, challenges, and opportunities. Panelists included: Cristina Archer, professor at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and associate director at the Center for Research in Wind (CReW) at the University of Delaware; Stephan Brabeck, chief technology officer at SkySails; Thierry Delahave, innovation and technology development lead at Saipem; Rob Creighton, founder and chief executive officer at WindLift; and David Schaefer, founder and chief executive officer at eWind Solutions. The second day of the workshop began with a brief overview of five key topics that are crucial to enabling AWE in the United States. These topics range from estimates of the U.S. wind resource, technical generation potential, economic analysis, environmental challenges, status of current technology and R&D activities, and needed activities to enable commercialization of AWE. This set the stage for a robust discussion in breakout groups where individuals could offer their opinions on the potential opportunities for AWE in the United States. The following topics were discussed in the breakout groups: resource potential and energy output, technical potential, social and environmental impacts, and permitting, techno-economic analysis and markets, technology assessment and upscaling and demonstration and commercialization needs. The second day concluded with reports by the NREL research team, communicating the key themes and outcomes from each of the breakout group discussions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-80017


  • airborne wind energy
  • airborne wind energy demonstration
  • airborne wind energy technical potential
  • airborne wind energy techno-economic analysis
  • siting
  • techno-economic analysis
  • workshop proceedings


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