Back in 2013 Google purchased a company called Makani, creators of the Energy Kite. Their goal is to make wind energy pricing competitive with fossil fuels, and they believe a new approach is needed. The Energy Kite is a new type of wind turbine, designed to generate more energy using 90% less materials. “Makani’s energy kite uses the same aerodynamic principles as a conventional wind turbine, but replaces tons of steel with lightweight electronics, advanced materials, and smart software.”
How does it work?
The kite is launched from a ground station using the rotors as helicopter blades until it reaches 800ft above ground. Once airborne, the system generates power by flying in large circles up high where the wind is stronger and more consistent. Rotors mounted on the kite wings drive generators that produce electricity. A strong conductive tether acts like the string of a kite and also carries energy back to the grid. The kite’s flight path is guided by a flight computer, which uses GPS and sensors to make thousands of calculations and adjustments in strong and steady winds.
Advantages over conventional wind turbines
- Generates 50% more power from 90% less materials.
- Able to reach stronger, more consistent winds.
- Can be used in areas not suitable for conventional turbines.
- Safer and easier to maintain on the ground; no need for cranes or helicopters.
What do you think?