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 Inverin, in Connemara. In partnership with University of Galway, the SME has launched the new project HAWK: Hibernian Airborne Wind Energy Kites, funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland  (SEAI) and featuring contributions from project collaborators Zero Nexus, TU Delft and Airborne Wind Europe.

Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) uses kites or drones that are tethered to the ground to generate electricity. There is a diverse set of challenges facing the adoption of AWE technology, including product safety/regulation, technology feasibility, and developing effective supply chains.

HAWK will accelerate development and deployment in the Irish marketplace of competitive energy-related products, processes and systems by introducing an open-source database effectively giving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a head-start in composite airframe development. This activity will strengthen Ireland’s reputation in the Airborne Wind Energy space and will encourage increased international collaboration.

In recent years, Europe has emerged as the hub for innovation in AWE, with numerous government-funded research projects such as MegaAWE in Northwest Europe, BORNE in Belgium and NAWEP in Norway all supporting fundamental research and technology development. However, the development of AWE systems to date has been focused on small-scale performance demonstrators, resulting in limited data availability to estimate costs.

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

  • Developing a techno-economic analysis model supported by data for candidate materials suited to Airborne Wind Energy (AWE).
  • Determining key challenges and barriers for Airborne Wind Energy system developers in predicting the capital and operating costs of composite airframe structures.
  • Analysing the main wing component for long-term performance using the material test data.


The HAWK project aligns well with the Irish Government’s Research Priority Areas 2018-2023, as it falls under two research themes: Energy, Climate Action and Sustainability; and Manufacturing and Materials. The development of AWE systems aids in the decarbonisation of energy systems and the promotion of sustainable living.

“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.”  – Kerrie Sheehan, Head of Research and Technology

This exciting project is being part-funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) with funding of €376k and will be completed over the next two years. Furthermore, Zero Nexus will provide expert support and guidance on material selection activities, setup and use of the open-source technical cost modelling software, and certification requirements for aircraft structures development programs. TU Delft will offer access to their open-source AWE reference system models, provide guidance on the use of the MegaAWE suite of system analysis tools, contribute requirements for sustainable materials to the project, and review test results and reports. Airborne Wind Europe will provide the link between this project and the AWE industry and its suppliers.



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 delivering research and innovations in areas such as climate action, clean energy, ocean, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable bioeconomy, and One Health.



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 (so-called unmanned aircraft systems) which generate energy from high-altitude winds. Airborne Wind Europe encourages collaboration and exchange between technology developers, policy makers, public administration and authorities, suppliers, research institutes and universities, utilities, energy consumers and equipment manufacturers as well as investors and financial institutions.

About TU Delft: Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (TU Delft) 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.