Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Giant Dutch kites generate 10 Kilowatts of power...enough for 10 homes

source: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/giant-dutch-kites-generate-10kw.php

Giant Kite Loop Generates 10kW imageWe've written with great fanfare about Beluga Skysails, the cargo ship that has successfully used a large kite to generate energy for operations during windy periods at sea. The billowing kite cut energy around 20 percent during a trip from Venezuela to Germany and up to Norway earlier in 2008.

Flying kites higher than standard wind turbines
Now Dutch researchers and inventor-astronaut Wubbo Ockels are demonstrating that loops of high-flying kites can get at the stiffer jet stream wind that is circulating higher than the highest wind turbines (which are erected at between 80 and 150 meters) and use it to generate power at a possible cost of around five cents per kilowatt hour. LadderMill, as the Dutch kite configuration is called, harvested enough wind for ten homes in its most recent pilot experiments, according to the Guardian, and plans are moving ahead to try a 50 kW version of the looped and laddered kites.

Kite power and kite plants in our future?
Unlike turbines, which generate energy by the turning of the blades, kites on a cable loop act a bit like wings - generating power during upward lift, while the wings on the other (downward) side of the loop give a lift just sufficient to support their weight and the cable weight. The result, as Wubbo Ockels' web site describes it,

"...is a large difference in force between the two ends at the ground. When the cable loop is guided around a wheel the force difference will drive the wheel. By connecting the wheel to a generator electricity will be produced."

Kite power and its potential is being explored by others, most notably Makani Power, which last year received a $10 million cash injection from Google. Via ::Guardian UK

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