Kite Gen: The Future Of Wind Power?

Kite Gen Wind Power Generator (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Kite Gen Wind Power Generator (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Wind power holds great promise as a clean energy source, but current windmill generators aren’t appropriate for all locations.  Italian firm Kite Gen hopes to change that with its innovative new generator designs, which use “kites” to capture strong high-altitude winds.

The Kite Gen concept is simple:  large controllable “kites” are drawn upward to altitudes around 800 meters, where average wind speeds are much greater than near the ground where current windmill designs reside.  As these remotely controlled airfoils rise, their tethers power turbines on the ground while also maintaining control over their flight path.  After reaching their maximum height, the kites are flown back down to ground level as motorized spools gather the tether.  The retrieval phase requires only a small fraction of the power that is generated during the flight.

Kite Gen System Prepares To Launch Airfoil (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Kite Gen System Prepares To Launch Airfoil (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Potential advantages of the Kite Gen system include cheaper building and installation costs, since the design essentially eliminates the need for much of the physical structure of a conventional windmill.  The system could also provide wind-based power in areas where traditional wind farms are impractical because of terrain or land use limitations.  Finally, Kite Gen promises that the system is environmentally friendly, since it avoids most wildlife interference problems faced by traditional windmills.

Proposed Kite Gen Carousel System (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Proposed Kite Gen Carousel System (photo: Kite Gen Research S.r.l.)

Kite Gen’s first prototype was built in 2006 and has enjoyed successful testing.  The first full-scale system is a 3MW generator being installed near Asti, Italy, which is expected to begin operating in late 2009.  Proposed future systems include off-shore generators, and “carousel” arrays of multiple kites that could theoretically produce over 1GW of power output.

For more information, visit the Kite Gen website.

Comments

  1. says

    I remember reading about something like this a few years ago. There was a company that wanted to fly kites the size of football fields holding onboard turbines. I wish I could remember where I saw it. This sounds like a simpler method.

  2. says

    I remember reading about something like this a few years ago. There was a company that wanted to fly kites the size of football fields holding onboard turbines. I wish I could remember where I saw it. This sounds like a simpler method.

  3. Uncle B says

    The sail ships of the past captured such great power from the Wind! If only we could approach them with modern day land generators! What power we would have, free and perpetual for as long as the wind blows! We will soon have enough battery cars charging at all times to ballast the vagarities of wind power, and probably very much more efficient and effective lifestyles than the current “American Dream” propagandized so well by the Capitalist exploiters and floggers of American designed inefficient “Cheap Oil Era” goods! Look to Denmark, Germany, Japan, for examples of how things can be for modern man, look away from the ‘Cheap Oil Era” spectacular ‘American Dream’ unsustainability and move forward into a new future!

  4. says

    We sort of have to take it as face value that the kites wont interfere with wildlife (they are quite high up, may be they wont “bug the birds”), if this is true I think this is a great idea. Clean, environmentally friendly, lower cost than regular windmills… Sounds good to me.

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