Kite Electricity

Keeping the power bill low has never been this much fun, and we have a team of Dutch researchers to thank for this breakthrough in renewable energy.

A group of scientists from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have found a way to harness energy from the wind by flying a 10-sq meter kite around.

The kite is attached to a generator, and produces 10 kilowatts of power, which is enough electricity to power 10 family homes.

kite readout

Next up is a 50 kilowatt version (nicknamed Laddermill), then a proposed experiment with multiple kites that could generate up to 100 megawatts (good for 100,000 homes).

Wubbo Ockels, a professor of sustainable engineering and former astronaut who leads the Laddermill project, believes kites are a cheap way to harvest the enormous energy in the wind at a kilometre or more above the ground, where winds carry hundreds of times more energy than on the ground. ‘We need to use all the energy supplies that are offered to us by nature, we need diversity and kites are … intriguing and fascinating,’ he said.

Wind Power

And Ockels isn’t the only one overseeing this high-flying idea.

Google.org, Google’s philanthropic sect, invested $10m last year in a kite company called Makani, one of the first awards as part of the organization’s Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal program.

The goal of both teams is to tap into high-altitude wind, something that our current wind-turbines cannot capture — it is more abundant and reliable than ground-level wind.

‘Pretty much anywhere in the UK you could run a kite plant economically, but you couldn’t run a wind turbine economically,’ said Allister Furey of the University of Sussex, who develops computer control mechanisms to maximise the power generated from kites.

I’m not sure if my neighbors would object to this thing flying overhead, but it’s certainly cheaper than the whole solar idea…

[Via guardian.co.uk]

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