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The Hague-based Ampyx Power goes bankrupt

Ampyx Power B.V., a Dutch renewable energy startup building a novel wind energy technology, has been declared bankrupt.

The startup was granted suspension of payments by the court of The Hague last month with the intent of finding new investors. Neither the startup nor the court-appointed trustee could find new investors who would support Ampyx Power’s plan to generate wind energy using an airborne vehicle.

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The situation around Ampyx Power shows the perils of startups building radically new technology with limited or no access to budgets needed for technological change.

The court of The Hague allowed the startup to continue its operations while it sought to find new investors to support its technological development. According to RTL, the startup has officially confirmed its status as being bankrupt and is ceasing operations. We have reached out to the company for a statement and are yet to receive a formal response.

Ampyx Power fails to find financial partner

Ampyx Power was founded in 2008 with a radical idea to change how electricity is generated with its utility-scale airborne wind energy system. While the idea has been radically different from any other renewable energy startup, Ampyx Power faced challenges raising funding to support its dream.

The startup has raised only about €50M to date, while the technology it is building is estimated to cost about €500M to develop. This pushed Ampyx Power to the brink of collapse wherein it was faced with the situation of developing new technology without making any revenue to access necessary funding.

To make matters worse, the startup failed to close a €15M funding round in late 2021 and its attempts to find bridge financing to prevent insolvency were unsuccessful. In order to prevent Ampyx Power from going bankrupt and find new investors, the court of The Hague had appointed Christiaan Mensink as a trustee last month, and tasked with investigating options for survival.

The suspension of payments acted as a small step to try and save the startup but those efforts have failed. Michiel Kruijff, CTO of Ampyx Power, says, “Development of a new and high-tech product, not just a prototype, is not cheap. A new car model or the next generation wind turbine readily costs 500M Euro to develop. You see such a price tag also with the air taxi prototypes being tested today.”

Ampyx Power and its radical wind energy technology

To recall, Ampyx Power was founded in 2008 and has over 60 employees who are mostly involved in the test and verification campaign of its AP-3 Airborne Wind Energy technology demonstrator.

While wind energy generation is essentially restricted to land-based windmill farms, Ampyx Power wanted to generate wind energy using an airborne vehicle. The idea is to use an air taxi prototype (called AP-3) that can fly autonomously for power generation. The air taxi is fitted with a 42 kN of tether pull and has a speed of 35 metres per second.

The radical idea here is to take that power generated by the tether pull and feed it directly to the grid. Ampyx Power has already demonstrated self-power taxi and steering tests at Breda International Airport, and was set to demonstrate auto piloted taxi tests before plans for the AP-3 to be moved to Spain for its maiden test flight were realised.

The startup has also built a test site with RWE Renewables in Ireland that was to act as a hangar for the vehicle.

The AP-3 demonstrator showed that Ampyx Power had managed to build the fundamentals of its technology, but could not prove that its airborne wind energy technology will really be able to generate renewable energy that can be fed to the grid.

The bankruptcy ruling after termination of suspension of payments on May 2 will lead to loss of jobs for all those working on Ampyx Power’s test and verification technology. The court appointed trustee is now reportedly trying to sell the company or parts of its technology. Mensink says he has seen a lot of interest and opportunities to take over parts of the company.

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