After Kitemill's kite number 5 in the KM1 series "Spark 5" completed its first flight in mid-December, the company has completed over 125 flights over Lista in 2020. Kite number 4 in the KM1 series - "Spark 4" completed 64 flights before it was taken out of operation for maintenance at the end of November and is now back in operational condition. -This is satisfying and marks that we are now in the process of starting up an operation maintenance task for our plants, in accordance with the EU program we follow, says technical manager Lode Carnel.
Spark 4 and 5 at Kitemill's workshop at Lista, with Trond Hammerstad completing the final assembly of the Kite "Spark 5", December, 2020.
After "Spark 4" was taken out of flight for maintenance, "Spark 5" was launched into the airspace over Lista in December 2020. Spark 4 completed 64 flights in a before it was disassembled for a large inspection and maintenance at the end of November. The maintenance work resulted in new solutions that reduce wear and tear on the aircraft and will provide longer service intervals. After the maintenance work, the kite is now operational again.
Better Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE)
This shows that as Kitemill gets longer and more flight hours, the kites become more robust. They can simply be operational over longer periods of time, which increases production and reduces costs. Together, this contributes to increasing the average revenue per unit of electricity produced (Levelized Cost of Energy).
More and more flight time
Kitemill's control system manager Espen Oland says that the AWE - EU project involves more and more flight time. After Kitemill joined the EU program, flights with the KM1 model have increased by 350%, and a further increase is expected next year.
-Therefore, it is important to have a good maintenance program. We have learned a lot from the failure modes that have occurred on our kites. As we gain more experience, we learn more about how kites can be maintained and how we can build them to reduce wear and tear, so that they have a longer operating time.
The goal is to get kites that can produce uninterrupted, with periodic service intervals where the period increases as we gain more experience of what can go wrong. Kitemill will start up again with flights over Lista in January 2021.
-We are looking forward, both Spark 4 and Spark 5 are now operational and ready to fly, says Espen Oland, which is responsible for the O&M task.
Better Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
As a result of increasingly robust kites, longer flight times and shorter maintenance interruptions, Kitemill's key performance indicator (KPI) improves. The performance indicator says something about the repeated periodic success in achieving operational hours flight time.
- Kitemill is convinced that it is operational experience that is the most important for success in airborne wind energy, and we therefore have a strong focus on getting as many flights as possible, says Lode Carnel.
This is a good KPI that we use internally, along with a KPI on how long a kite is operational.
OPEX are costs associated with the operation and maintenance of equipment. Through the EU program, the electronics in the kites have been upgraded through better health monitoring of the system, it has been made more robust against water intrusion, and components have been replaced to facilitate long operating time.
- The kites we are building now are simply much better than what we had in 2019. We have good subcontractors and skilled people to put the kites together. This leads to less maintenance and troubleshooting, says Espen Oland.
Software has also been developed for automatic testing of the kites, which simplifies the qualification program considerably, while errors are detected earlier, which increases the probability that Kitemill will succeed.