CTL Tástáil Teo Launches New Airborne Wind Energy Project

Irish SME CTL working in conjunction with University of Galway to model and test novel materials for Airborne Wind Energy.

GALWAY, May 2023 – Composites Testing Laboratory (CTL) is an accredited testing laboratory for advanced composite materials, based in Connemara. In partnership with University of Galway, the SME has launched a new airborne wind energy research project. HAWK: Hibernian Airborne Wind Energy Kites is funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland  (SEAI) and is in collaboration with Zero Nexus, TU Delft and Airborne Wind Europe.

Reducing Barriers to Airborne Wind Energy

Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) uses kites or drones tethered to the ground to generate electricity. There is a diverse set of challenges facing the adoption of AWE technology, including:

  • Product safety and regulation
  • Technology feasibility
  • Developing effective supply chains.

HAWK will accelerate development and deployment in the Irish marketplace. By introducing an open-source database, the project will give original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a head-start in composite airframe development. This will strengthen Ireland’s reputation in the Airborne Wind Energy space, boosting international collaboration.

In recent years, Europe has emerged as the hub for innovation in AWE. There are numerous government-funded research projects underway across the continent, including MegaAWE in Northwest Europe, BORNE in Belgium, and NAWEP in Norway. These initiatives support fundamental research and technology development. However, development of AWE systems to date has focused on small-scale performance demonstrators, limiting cost estimation.

Therefore, the HAWK project aims to reduce risk for AWE OEMs by:

  • Developing a Techno-Economic Analysis Model: Using data on candidate materials for AWE devices, a techno-economic analysis model will be created.
  • Determining Key Challenges and Barriers for AWE: Research will be conducted to reduce the barriers AWE system developers face in  predicting capital and operating costs of composite airframe structures.
  • Wing Component Analysis: Material test data will be utilised to analyse a main wing component for long-term performance.

The HAWK Team

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is part-funding this exciting project with €376k over the course of 24 months. Throughout these two years, CTL will gather data for cost modelling and numerical analysis, and study paths to certification for airborne wind energy systems to define key risks and opportunities. Partners University of Galway will lead the techno-economic and durability assessment work packages, developing a preliminary aircraft structural design and assessing the performance of the main wing. 

Additionally, Zero Nexus and TU Delft will provide expert guidance on material selection, software usage, analysis and certification requirements. Lastly, Airborne Wind Europe will ensure a vital link between this project and the airborne wind energy industry.


The HAWK project aligns well with the Irish Government’s Research Priority Areas 2018-2023, falling under two research themes: Energy, Climate Action and Sustainability; and Manufacturing and Materials. The development of AWE systems helps to decarbonise energy systems and promote sustainable living.

Kerrie Sheehan, Head of Reseach and Technology in SEAI, commented “SEAI is dedicated to supporting breakthrough innovations through our Research, Development and Demonstration Funding Programme, by funding research initiatives such as the HAWK project lead by CTL Tástáil Teo. We look forward to how the outcomes of this project aid the advancement of airborne wind energy.” 

About the Project Partners

About CTL: Established in 1998, CTL is an independent composites testing lab based in Connemara, Galway. Its team of ten experts have significant expertise and skills to support customer innovation and safety across land, sea and air.

About University of Galway: First founded in 1845, University of Galway is a globally focused research-led university. The institution’s researchers are furthering innovation in areas such as climate action, clean energy, ocean, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable bio-economy, and One Health.

About the Project Collaborators

About Zero Nexus: Zero Nexus is an engineering company focused on the electrification of hard-to-electrify industries. They are a small self-funded team with expertise in materials, powertrains, controls, and broader energy system design.

About Airborne Wind Europe: Airborne Wind Europe is the association of the Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) sector. It promotes the development and deployment of AWE systems like kites and drones which generate energy from high-altitude winds. Airborne Wind Europe encourages collaboration and exchange between key industry players such as technology developers, policy makers, research institutes, and energy consumers.

About TU Delft: Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is a modern university with a rich tradition. Its eight faculties and over thirty English-language Master programmes are at the forefront of technological development, contributing to scientific advancement in the interests of society.

About SEAI: SEAI catalyses direct energy research action through the delivery of the annual RDD Programme and through capacity-building processes with citizens and communities as well as private and public sector organisations. The revitalised SEAI RDD Programme launched in 2018 and since then it has developed into a multi-annual call, involving companies, non-academic research institutions, 3rd level educational bodies, public sector, and semi-state bodies.

Details of energy research projects can be viewed on the National Energy Research Database.  

This project is being supported with financial contribution from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2022, Grant number 22/RDD/893.