Tethered-wing power systems are a viable possibility for collecting energy from stronger, more consistent winds found in the upper regions of the atmosphere where conventional wind turbines are incapable of reaching. To date, all of the tethered-wing systems fly with the tether oriented down-wind of the ground attachment point. Examined here are the dynamics and performance of a novel system where the tether is oriented both upwind and downwind of the ground attachment point during normal operation of the device. Certain prototypes built by Makani and Ampyx Power are considered to have motions analogous to the motions of the blade tips on conventional horizontal-axis wind turbines. If true, this system has motions that are analogous to conventional vertical-axis wind turbines. The system has a ground-based generator which is mechanical coupled to the aircraft and energy is generated on the reel-out phase of each cycle while a smaller amount of energy is consumed during the reel-in phase of each cycle. A simple model was developed which captures the dominant dynamics of this system and shows, via simulation, that the proposed system is viable and capable of stable and unstable periodic motions with a simulated closed-loop tether tension controller or a simple open loop reel-rate controller. In addition, it is capable of motions which produce net positive power. The small system examined, where parameter optimization was not performed, predicts an average cycle power of more than 500 watts in a 10 m/s wind.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wind energy conversion systems--Mathematical models; Kites--Dynamics--Mathematical models

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Mario W. Gomes

Advisor/Committee Member

Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard

Advisor/Committee Member

Margaret Bailey


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Center at TK1541 .G38 2015


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