Power from kites

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John Perry
AYRS Chairman
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:39 pm

Power from kites

Post by John Perry »

At a recent AYRS on-line meeting we briefly discussed generating power from kites and I showed a short video clip about the system developed by Scottish company Kite Power Systems (their intellectual property now I think sold to a Norwegian company). The idea of this is to run a kite line in and out with a motor/generator linked to the drum on which the kite line is wound. The trajectory of the kite can be controlled such that much more power is generated when the kite line runs out than is consumed when it is hauled back in. AYRS member Neils Daken has just sent me details of another system working on this principle (thank you Neils) - the Makani system - see this video (amongst others): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6NW0QeKLZA

The Makani system appears to be a very sophisticated, and I would imagine expensive, version of the concept. The 'kite' is actually a huge glyder which takes off and lands under fully automatic control with multiple propellers driven by electric motors. The way it takes off and lands autonomously and apparently under perfect control is certainly impressive. My first thought was it all seems too complicated to be cost effective by comparison with a conventional windmill but presumably cost projections will have been carried out - the project is now sponsored by Google (Alphabet). Apparently the company started with a group of kitesurfers, so this is valid material for the AYRS website! Also, various AYRS members, including myself, have wondered about a sophisticated remote controlled glyder used as a kite to tow a paravane through the water as a possible approach to challenging for the world sailing speed record - it would seem that the Makani people already have the glyder, they just need the bit in the water, but maybe they are more interested in generating renewable energy than in sailing records.

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