In what is being lauded as a world first, power company Kite Power Systems intends to build a wind farm that’s run by 20 huge kites working in pairs to provide power for over 5,000 homes in Britain come the year 2020.
It’s not yet known where the wind farm will be located (although plans for this will be announced come September), the Daily Mail reports. The kites themselves will fly in 100mph circles at over 300m up in the air, approximately the same height as the Shard in London!
The movement of the kites will pull on a tether that’s attached to a rotating drum on the ground below. This in turn will be linked up to a generator that’ll spin so as to produce the electricity required.
Speaking to the Times, KPS’s Business Development Director, David Ainsworth explained that it’s hoped the wind farm will be based in Scotland – although it will require a supporting grant in order for this project to be launched. Other such wind farms established in the future could be built subsidy-free, however.
He went on to note that the use of kites would be a lot cheaper than wind turbines since they’ll use less steel, are easier to maintain and would be easier to transport as well. Not only that but critics of wind farms who complain that turbines are unsightly would have less to worry about since the visual impact of the kites would not be quite so obvious.
Responding to the news, acting director of WWF Scotland, Dr Sam Gardner, was quoted by the Mail as saying: “This is really exciting news as kite power technology offers the prospect of a new way to harness the power of the wind, especially in places where it might be impractical to erect wind turbines or other renewables. As well as contributing to reducing our dependencies on climate-damaging fossil fuels, there's the chance to create jobs and export opportunities.”
Interestingly, the idea of using kites above ground to produce energy is also being considered for use beneath the sea as well. Minesto – a marine energy technology developer – has come up with a design for a prototype kite that can glide underwater and harness tidal energy to provide power.
According to EuroNews, Stranford Lough in Northern Ireland has been selected as the place to test the new submarine kite, in large part because its tides rise to an amplitude of four metres regularly at speeds averaging out at 1.4m per second.
Chief technical officer with the company Heije Westberg explained that the kite will be tethered to the sea floor and the lifting force of the tide will make the wings fly forward to spin a turbine. When the turbine spins, electricity is produced. But the aim isn’t to make the kite fly as fast as it can – it’s all about converting as much energy as possible, he went on to say.
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