The most powerful and energy productive winds on the Earth have been unusable by conventional wind turbines because of their high altitude. But a new wind power startup with an innovative design is aiming to remedy that, harvesting energy from these high-altitude and high-power winds using giant kites and a ‘yo-yo’ design.
The startup, named Kite Gen, is approaching the challenge of high-altitude wind power in a very different way from their competitors.
“The Kite Gen system leaves all of the generating equipment on the ground, saving weight and money in the air, and instead uses the physical traction from the kite’s tether to generate electricity.”
After being launched, the kites are piloted automatically in a predefined flight path by using on-board sensors in order to maximize the power generated. The kites are bound to the ground with ‘Dyneema tethers’, and the pulling force exerted on the tethers is what generates the electricity.
“When the kites reach the end of their tether (while turning spinning drums attached to alternators), the angle of the kites are repositioned to present minimum resistance to the wind and the cables are then rewound to begin another phase of power generation.”
The rewinding of the cables does consume some energy according to the researchers, but it’s a small fraction of the energy that is produced.
So far, Kite Gen has raised around $12 million USD in project funding, and is looking to bring that up to around $62 million. With that the company says that it will be able to improve the technology and build a 150-megawatt wind farm with 50 of their kite units.
Image Credits: Kite Gen