TU Delft

Delft University of Technology is the oldest and largest technical university of the Netherlands. Its Faculty of Aerospace Engineering is one of the largest in Europe and is home to the Kite Power Research Group. As pioneer in Airborne Wind Energy this group has developed a 20 kW pumping kite power system, demonstrating automatic operation in 2012.


The research group is part of the section of Wind Energy of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and has full access to scientific staff and research infrastructure. This will include the wind tunnels of the faculty, of which the largest, the Open Jet Facility, can fit scaled-down kite of 2 m span wing span. Custom-developed pressure measurement strips for experimental analysis of flexible membrane wings. Computational facilities include a cluster with 1000 cores of 4.5TB RAM memory (target is 4GB RAM/core), mostly connected through infiniband. The Kite Power Research Group currently comprises 3 PhD researchers and 14 graduate researchers. Since January 2010, the team is operating a 20 kW prototype system which is equipped with a 25 m2 kite and a complete sensor platform to support the parallel research activities. Two test sites, the former airfield Valkenburg and the Maasvlakte2 harbour area, can be used through rental agreements. The high tech entrepreneurs centre YES!Delft is available to support commercial spin-off activities.

A more detailed description of the research can be found in:

Uwe Fechner, Rolf van der Vlugt, Edwin Schreuder, Roland Schmehl: "Dynamic Model of a Pumping Kite Power System". Renewable Energy, 2015.

Allert Bosch, Roland Schmehl, Paolo Tiso, Daniel Rixen "Dynamic nonlinear aeroelastic model of a kite for power generation". AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, Vol. 37, No. 5, pp. 1426-1436, 2014.

Claudius Jehle, Roland Schmehl "Applied Tracking Control for Kite Power Systems". AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 1211-1222, 2014.

Rolf van der Vlugt, Johannes Peschel, Roland Schmehl "Design and Experimental Characterization of a Pumping Kite Power System ". In: U. Ahrens, M. Diehl, R. Schmehl (eds.) "Airborne Wind Energy". Springer, Heidelberg, 2013.

Key persons

Dr.-Ing. Roland Schmehl is Associate Professor at Aerospace Engineering, PhD in computational fluid dynamics, postdoc at ESTEC/ESA, experience in multiphase flow, liquid spray physics, low-emission combustion, rocket propulsion, multiphase flow, fluid structure interaction, head of the Kite Power Research Group at TUD since 2009, co-editor of first scientific textbook on Airborne Wind Energy published by Springer, member of program committee of Airborne Wind Energy Conferences 2011 and 2013, speaker at TEDx conference.

More information about the research group can be found at www.kitepower.eu.