An international renewable energy company has secured planning permission for a wind energy testing facility in Co. Mayo.

This will be the first such test centre developed by RWE, a multinational founded and based in Germany.

The purpose of the centre is, the company says, to investigate the potential of airborne wind energy technologies.

Construction of the site infrastructure is expected to begin later this year. It is expected that the centre will have an operational lifetime of eight years.

The wind energy testing site is in partnership with Dutch company Ampyx power, which is developing the technology.

Airborne wind energy systems are used at altitudes of several hundred metres, and have lower infrastructure costs.

The system that RWE will be testing consists of a ground-based winch generator; a launch and land platform; and small device resembling an aircraft.

The device, with a wingspan of about 12m, is connected to the generator by a tether. It draws the tether from the winch and produces electricity by acting against the resistance of the built-in generator.

Image source RWE 1

Once the tether is fully extended, the device glides back towards the winch, as the tether is reeled back in. The process is then repeated.

Current airborne wind energy system demonstrators have output capacities of between 100kW and 200kW.

The Mayo facility will be used to demonstrate a 150kW system, followed later by a larger commercial-scale 1MW system.

RWE has been in Ireland since 2016 and currently has two offices; one in Kilkenny and the other in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin.

It constructed and operates Dromadda Beg onshore wind farm in Co. Kerry. The company says that it is exploring further renewable projects and opportunities in Ireland.

A planning application was submitted earlier this year for a 62MW onshore wind farm in Lyre, Co. Cork.