Wind technology is the star of the US. It can power 25 million homes, but it has some drawbacks. Wind turbines are expensive and can only capture winds that come at ground level. If you’ve sat and watched the clouds roll by, you know the wind moves more steadily in the higher atmosphere. Grounded turbines just can’t reach high-altitude wind energy. Kites, however, can.
They can reach as high as the cables would allow compared to a wind turbine’s 150 meters. The way they work is simple: two kites attach to the ground unit with cables. As they go up, the cable rolls out, generating energy that is stored on the premises. When one kite goes up, the other comes down, creating a figure-eight pattern. The kite going down is powered by a small percentage of the upward kite’s power.
Kites can generate high-altitude wind energy with significantly less cost than building a turbine. Think about it, a turbine is composed mainly of steel and carbon fiber. It has to be stable enough to resist the winds from top to base and it gets shut off during high winds to protect the blades.
A kite, on the other hand, has most of the pressure focused on the cable that tethers it to the ground unit. The ground unit simply has to be heavy enough to prevent the kites from lifting it off the ground. They can even be used in deep sea waters with a floating platform attached to the sea floor with cables.
These kites have the potential to reinvent wind technology and make it available in more places. It’s cheap, effective and easy to transport. The only downside is that no one gets to fly them!
Image: Alteros Energy