Markus Sommerfeld

PhD Candidate
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Curran Crawford
Funding Period: 
2015 to 2018
Airborne Wind Energy Systems

Research Statement
Mainstream wind energy technology has adopted the 3-bladed “Danish” concept turbine, with ongoing levelized cost of energy (LCOE) reductions bringing wind energy LCOE closer to conventional generation. Airborne wind energy, although not yet commercial, provides an opportunity to further reduce LCOE by removing most of the structure used in traditional wind turbines. This reduces capital costs dramatically and opens a path towards a more mobile and decentralized energy production. Airborne wind energy has the potential to generate energy in remote locations with good wind conditions. Additionally it can provide sustainable, clean energy for communities with no grid connection, which currently mostly rely on costly diesel for power.

Some of the key challenges of airborne wind energy technologies are robust steering of the kite through turbulent wind conditions, reliable take-off and landing in response to changing wind conditions and grid integration of a fluctuating power output.

From September 2015 I will start my PhD research on airborne wind energy systems, under the supervision of Dr. Curran Crawford. I obtained my German “Diplom” or MSc in Mechanical Engineering in the field of Energy technology from the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. My master thesis, which I conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES), was on the topic of improving and automating the manufacturing process of wind turbine blades. Before starting my final thesis, I did an internship at TUV Rheinland Japan in Yokohama, where my main task was the certification of solar panels for the European market. During an internship at Airbus, I gathered first-hand experience in testing and certification of large scale assemblies and small scale mechanical components.

I enjoy travelling and getting to know new cultures and people. During my leisure time I like jogging and other outdoor activities. I am looking forward to the adventures and opportunities in Victoria, British Columbia and all that Canada has to offer.

AWESome potential: Airborne wind energy’s opportunities and challenges

Check out Markus's talk from March 1 2018: