Renewable Energy Kites

Many new ways to utilize wind power are being tested by scientists. One new revolutionary way scientist believe they can utilize wind power is by using kites and drones. The large kites are made from aerofoil and large drones could also be used.

One university in Madrid has started testing the use of large kites like those used in kitesurfing. They have small wind turbines tethered to them to generate on board energy. The turbine creates the energy and sends it back via a cable which also keeps it in place.

This solution to wind power means low costs, both for installation and materials. It also has a low aesthetic impact as they can be used over 500 meters high, which also makes them more reliable as the winds over 500 meters are more consistent. These systems are described as AWES or airborne wind energy systems.

AWES are currently being studied to see how they behave in order to build the optimum design for generating electricity. These new turbines could be used in difficult or remote areas to produce clean energy. They could also be used as back up after a natural disaster where there is no other power available. This would make them a valuable resource. Flight simulators are being used to test this new technology and the results will be analysed carefully to determine how successful the AWES could be at electrical generation.

Many large companies are behind the development of the AWES, from the European Commission to Google.  Gonzalo Sanchez Arriaga, a researcher said:

 “The main advantage of airborne energy systems is that they operate at higher altitudes than conventional aerogenerators where the winds tend to be stronger and less intermittent. Another advantage is they are usually more compact systems and they are transportable.”

“At high and very high altitude, the theoretical wind potential amounts to 18,000 TW per year. Exploiting only 1% of those winds would be sufficient to power the world’s growth energy demand.” –
Miles L. Loyd

While the process is not yet ready to be used widely, it gives great promise to the future of wind generation and could revolutionise the wind industry. It gives another option to those areas that cannot have conventional wind turbines. With governments and countries set with the task of lowering their emissions and switching to renewables, technology like this could help them on their way to reaching those climate change targets in the coming years.