KiteGen thinks that current wind technology only scratches the surface of what’s possible with wind energy. That’s because wind turbines cannot reach higher and touch altitude wind. Rarely wind farms are sited at more than 100m above the ground; the higher they go, the heavier, more unstable and expensive the apparatus becomes.
The company’s technology takes a higher flight with wind technology. Its system consists of tethered kites of a predefine flight path in order to rotate a ground-based turbine. The large wings (or kites) in the KiteGen system are driven by avionic sensors located in a dome base that also houses an electric generator. The control system is designed to automatically guide the kites in order to rotate the turbine and maximize torque. As altitude increases, average wind speeds increase as well.
In the air, the system subtracts energy from the wind at an altitude of 2,624,7/3,280.8 ft with power kites and semi-rigid automatically piloted high efficiency air foils. On the ground, lies all the heavy machinery for power generation. To connect the two parts of the system, high resistance lines transmitting the traction of the kites and at the same time controlling their direction and angle to the wind.
One of the advantages of the KiteGen concept is space efficiency. While a 1000 MW wind turbine farms requires an area of of 96.5 to 115.8 square miles, KiteGen says would need only five to six square kilometers for the same output. It estimates its wind plants could produce around 500 GWh yearly.
The company also envisages big savings in energy costs of US$0.02-$0.05 per kWh, as compared to $0.05-$0.09 per kWh for fossil energy and $0.15 per kWh for current windmills.
KiteGen was founded in 2007 in Chieri, northern Italy and is the brainchild of Massimo Ippolito. Its engineers are working with another company called Sequoia Automation S.r.l., which is developing technical software and mechanical engineering.
The company is seeking investors to produce the first full-sized model and is also developing an offshore system.
Follow the link to find out more about KiteGen’s technology. What do you think? Promising technology or pipe dream?
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.