Let’s go fly a kite…

Wind turbines are becoming an increasingly controversial topic: many people oppose them claiming to spoil the landscape, whilst others praise them for bringing clean energy. Wind power is still abundant and as related costs are on the way down, it is one of the best renewable resources available today. Despite claims of it being unreliable, wind does have calculable and predictable patterns, which can be utilised to our advantage.

A number of companies are now working on how to harness wind energy at an even higher level – up in the skies.

Kite Power Solutions  is working on the concept of flying kites over the sea in formation. The idea is to anchor three kites, which could then fly in a circular path – similar to the tips of the turbine blades. The kites pull a winch on the ground that is linked to an electric generator, and the circular motion of the kites helps generating electricity.

© Kite Power Solutions Ltd 2015

© Kite Power Solutions Ltd 2015

Makani also believes in kites for harnessing electricity and their “energy kites” would be connected to the ground station through a tether, and it would also be supplied with an intelligent computer system to reach maximum output.

A similar approach is to use glider planes (Ampyx Power), again pulling on the tether and hence generating electricity on the ground.

Kites have already been trialled for lowering the consumption of ships, but using them on a wider scale of energy generation could bring more efficiency than conventional wind turbines –  at the fraction of the expenses.

Some solutions could eliminate the costs for expensive concrete and the use of specialised construction boats for installation, and could just be attached to a floating platform. Also, flying kites could reach heights with more powerful winds than current wind turbines, therefore harnessing more energy.

These innovations come with integrated sophisticated technology and computer systems, which can design the best set-up for the most efficient operation at any given time, while reacting faster to suddent changes in the weather or environment – for example by detecting approaching storms.

And those, who still believe in wind turbines – Altaeros Energias has been testing a floating wind turbine, where a helium-filled shell houses the turbine and which can be lifted up to 600 metres – about twice as high as the tallest current wind turbines. AltaerosEnergias

Image sources: Altaeros Energias and Kite Power Solutions

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