Friday, 27 March 2009

Power kites, Kitegen and oodles of green energy

I love hang gliding and, as second best, I like paragliding too. I'm also very keen on innovative renewable energy concepts. The development shown in (click to watch - sorry I can't "embed" it) this video sort of combines the two. It shows some Dutch scientists using a kite about the same size as the power kites that they use down in St Ouen's bay for kite surfing like this pic here.
From a 10sq metre kite of this type they can generate 10kw using a computer controlled auto-pilot to fly a figure of eight pattern in the sky. There are much larger versions that are being worked on and the cost per unit is projected to be cheaper than that from coal fired stations.

Here is a video, about this type of power generation, in somewhat more depth from one of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks that feature radical far-sighted people. This is by Saul Griffith who runs Makani Power (amongst other things).

An objection that can be raised is that these kite systems take up some airspace, but someone calculated that the airspace above nuclear power stations (which are no-fly zones) is big enough to generate just as much electricity as the nuke station can below, cheaper and with no waste either! Get rid of the nukes and just keep the no-fly zones...

I am just about convinced that power kites will be a very significant development for renewable energy and will be much better than conventional wind turbines, onshore or offshore.

Here's a few links:

Makani power Griffiths' outfit has had a second grant from Google

Kitegen in Italy This outfit is thinking really big

The MAGENN system Probably not so flexible and certainly more expensive but gets around the "no wind days" problem differently because it's a sort of tethered airship and does not need to be reeled back in.

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