Airborne wind is expanding the reach of renewable energy. Kitemill’s kite turbine harvests the energy of high-altitude winds.
The wind power market has taken off in recent years. In Europe alone, more wind power was installed than any other form of power generation in 2017. Conventional wind farms do, however, have their shortcomings.
The biggest challenge, according to Greenfish, is wind power variability and regularity – turbines cannot be built tall enough to reach the strongest, steadiest winds.
Kitemill’s kite turbine features a plane – or kite – fastened to a tether, which is reeled in and out by a winch and transfers the lifting force of the kite to a ground station. A sensor-based control system ensures safe flight and optimal energy production.
The company’s kite turbine uses less than 10 per cent of the materials used in a traditional wind turbine. This allows for operation at higher altitudes where winds are steadier and more predictable. Thus, the turbine can exploit the high energy density of winds at 500–1 500 metres above ground level.
Kite turbines are also more efficient. Compared to traditional wind turbines in the same scale, losses are reduced and it is designed to reach full power in less wind, two factors which gives a better efficiency rate. Higher efficiency and access to better wind resources give kite turbines a more production compared the installed capacity, normally referred to as the capacity factor.
Kitemill’s turbine requires no other infrastructure than a grid connection. It has a smaller carbon footprint and is less intrusive to the landscape than a conventional turbine, and can be removed with few traces. The initial turbine models will be ideal for hybrid weak-grid and off-grid systems.
Although in its infancy, airborne wind energy is considered very promising. Kitemill’s kite turbine could open up for wind power generation in new regions, as winds at altitudes over 500 metres above ground level are found around the globe. Installation of the turbine could be an alternative to repowering of old onshore and offshore wind farms, and may be suitable for use in floating offshore wind as well.
Kitemill’s turbine has demonstrated autonomous operation in all modes, and will be scaled up to utility size. The company is ready to conduct demonstration projects in new markets.
Photo: Ron Holand, Kitemill
Highly efficient kite turbine
Reaches strong, stable high-altitude winds
Minimal environmental impact