The United States recently passed an important landmark. In March, 10 percent of the nation's power came from renewable energy. Over the next few years, that number will only increase, but renewable energy has a big weakness: It's tough to power our homes using a source that can wax and wane with barely any notice.
This is a challenge for most forms of renewable energy, but most of our renewable energy comes from wind, which is among the most unpredictable. The behavior of wind near the ground, where turbines spin, is highly variable. But a few miles up winds are strong and steady, ideal for power generation. All we have to do is tap into them. Conventional wind turbines can't reach the necessary altitudes. There are some plans to lift a wind turbine to that height using balloons, but perhaps the best approach is to use a kite.
Or a pair of kitesto be precise. Kite Power Systems is a U. Their motion powers a generator on the ground, which can produce kilowatts to megawatts of power, depending on the size of the kites, as Real Engineering explains. This setup has a number of advantages over traditional turbines. The kites are cheaper and easier to build and set up, all of the moving parts are at ground level for easier maintenance, and the system is much more durable and will last longer.
The only part that's likely to break is the tether, which is a simple steel cable that's easy to replace. This type of power generation could be the key to more widespread adoption of wind power. Depending on location, kite-based generators could provide stable, constant power almost every day of the year, eliminating the biggest disadvantage of renewable energy.
Perhaps in a few years we'll all have kites flying overhead, powering our homes and lives. Source: Real Engineering. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories.
Real Engineering YouTube. Related Story. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below. More From Energy.One day, generating renewable energy could be as simple as flying a kite — but not just any kite.
Other initiatives have included high-altitude balloons designed to provide internet access to remote areas and using molten salt to store renewable energy. Makani's kite has a wingspan of 85 feet and eight rotors that spin in the wind to generate electricity, which is then transmitted to the ground via a cable.
It's designed to fly autonomously while tethered to a ground station, according to the company's website. The rotors can generate up to kilowatts of energy, or enough to power homes, Makani executive Fort Felker said in a blog post.
That's a fraction of the power output of a conventional land-based wind turbine, but the company's goal is to "build a new wind power technology capable of reaching altitudes not currently accessible to conventional wind turbines," Felker said in the post. The kite would fly at an altitude of about 1, feet, which is much higher than typical land-based turbines, according to Felker.
At that altitude, Hall said, Makani's kite may be able to tap into winds that are stronger and more constant than the ones terrestrial wind turbines rely on. This wind is stronger, more predictable and you can create greater amounts of electricity. Hall added that the kite's lightweight design suggests that it can be transported and used to restore power to regions experiencing outages in the wake of storms or other natural disasters. Google declined requests for more information about the kite, and Makani hasn't said when the technology might be commercially available.
But in his post, Felker said his team was "talking to companies in the industry to understand the technical and economic requirements for bringing our technology into the real world, and how we can best integrate with the existing energy ecosystem. Get the Mach newsletter.After more than ten years of development and a prototype test flight inM has begun full size testing in Hawaii this year to continue its journey towards becoming a portable power solution that can be brought anywhere with sufficient wind to propel it.
The functionality of M is fairly straightforward. After being connected to a foot high-strength tether, it uses 8 onboard motors to climb from a foot base station to its determined altitude about ft with a small amount of voltage power. Then, it transitions into crosswind where it flies in foot wide loops lasting seconds each to generate maximum power via onboard computers guided by data from sensors, GPS, and an inertial navigation system.
The electricity comes down in DC direct currentbut is converted to AC alternating current at its base station. The lighter, portable design of the M could help bring wind energy to areas devastated by natural disasters and places where coastal waters are too deep for other wind systems to sit on the seabed.
Makani is not the only company developing flying wind generators. As a new clean energy technology, though, AWE companies face an uphill battle in becoming commercially viable due to research and development costs that take years, a problem faced by many new industries overall.
However, as the technology comes to market and matures, AWE could follow the path forged by traditional turbine wind power which is now competitive with fossil fuels. The Makani team is continuing to develop more advanced versions of its wind energy kite while discussing the technical and economic integration aspects of the technology with industry experts.
Initial ground and hover tests of the kite begun in Hawaii in August this year. In the coming weeks, the full foot commercial version of the M will finally be tested.
Analyst Philippe Houchois noted The M wind power kite during testing in Hawaii. Recent Most Popular News SpaceX's next launch ready to go just weeks after in-flight engine failure Just weeks after SpaceX suffered its first in-flight rocket engine failure sincethe To Top.San Francisco CNN Business One company's self-flying energy kite may be the answer to increasing wind power around the world. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.
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Experimental treatment uses modified stem cells to fight cancer. This city is giving out free cash to curb poverty. A scientist's radical idea to engineer mice and stop Lyme disease. California-based Makani -- which is owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet -- is using power from the strongest winds found out in the middle of the ocean, typically in spots where it's a challenge to install traditional wind turbines. Makani hopes to create electricity to power communities across the world.
Makani's energy kite launches from a floating platform in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. When the company's co-founders, who were fond of kiteboarding, realized deep-sea winds were largely untapped, they sought to make that energy more accessible. So they built an autonomous kite, which looks like an airplane tethered to a base, to install on a floating platform in water.
Tests are currently underway off the coast of Norway. This company wants to help remote areas stay connected even during natural disasters. This technology is more cost-efficient than a traditional wind turbine, which is a lot more labor intensive and would require lots of machinery and installation.
The lightweight kite, which is made of carbon fiber, has an foot wingspan. The kite launches from a base station and is constrained by a 1,foot tether as it flies autonomously in circles with guidance from computers. Crosswinds spin the kite's eight rotors to move a generator that produces electricity that's sent back to the grid through the tether.
The kites are still in the prototype phase and aren't flown constantly right now as researchers continue to develop the technology. When the wind is down, the kite will return to the platform and automatically pick back up when it resumes. Chief engineer Paula Echeverri pings the kite over the sea surface cable for the first time. Chief engineer Dr. Paula Echeverri said the computer system is key for understanding the state of the kite in real time, from collecting data about how fast it's moving to charting its trajectory.
Echeverri said tests have been helpful in establishing what some of the challenges of the system are, and the team has made adjustments to get it ready for commercial use. Earlier this year, the team successfully completed a first round of autonomous flights. Working in deeper water provides an additional benefit over traditional wind turbines, according to Felker.
By being farther offshore, the technology is less visible from land. Wind turbines can be obtrusive and impact natural life in the surrounding area.Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people live within 25 miles of a coastline where winds are strong and steady, but two-thirds of coastal waters are too deep for conventional wind energy systems that sit on the seabed.
The Makani energy kite is an aerodynamic wing tethered to a ground station. As the kite flies in loops, rotors on the wing spin as the wind moves through them, generating power that is sent down a tether to the grid. The airflow acting on a moving kite is many times faster than the wind experienced by a stationary object. Makani started in when a group of devoted kitesurfers had the novel idea that kites might be able to harness enough wind energy to power the world.
The earliest kites were made of fabric and closely resembled kiteboarding gear. Testing these early prototypes proved that the kites needed more efficiency and control than fabric could afford. This led to the idea of rigid kites that could support onboard rotors to harness apparent wind for higher lift and more energy production. After building rigid kites, their next step was to test small-scale kite prototypes in a broad range of wind and environmental conditions.
Here, the team had to solve some major technical problems like how to transition between vertical hover flight, and how to generate energy in crosswind flight when the kite flies in acrobatic loops. In Decemberafter many generations of prototypes, the team put the knowledge gained from years of testing into a commercial-scale carbon-fiber kite with the wingspan of a small jet plane.
The newest kite is capable of generating up to kilowatts of electricity, which is 30 times more energy than the previous prototype and enough to power about homes. Propellers on the wing act like rotors on a helicopter taking off and lift the kite off the ground station. The kite takes off perpendicular to the wind and climbs to a height of 1, ft, at which point the kite begins looping without consuming any energy. The air moving through the rotors on the wing forces them to rotate, which drives a generator, producing energy that is sent down a specially engineered tether to the ground.
While at X, Makani evolved from a proof-of-concept kite to a commercial-scale prototype. The team is now an independent business within Alphabet working to accelerate access to new offshore wind areas. Makani has partnered with Shell to bring energy kites to offshore environments and remains focused on testing and refining the system to scale commercially so that more people around the world can have access to clean, affordable wind power.
The Makani team was founded by a group of kiteboarders inspired by the potential of harnessing wind energy with kites. Inthe Makani team began testing with a fabric kite that resembled a kiteboarding sail. Designed for efficiency and control, The Wing 4 prototype had rigid wings with onboard rotors.
The Wing 7 prototype was designed to transition between vertical hover flight and energy-generating crosswind flight.
This kite could harness more of the world's wind energy
The latest prototype, the M, has a wingspan of 26m and a generating capacity of kW. Makani Harnessing wind energy with kites to create renewable electricity Graduated. Design Energy generating kites. Development From kitesurfing to energy kites Makani started in when a group of devoted kitesurfers had the novel idea that kites might be able to harness enough wind energy to power the world.
The Technology How the energy kite works Propellers on the wing act like rotors on a helicopter taking off and lift the kite off the ground station.
The Makani Process The kite rests on a ground station ready for launch. The kite climbs to a desired altitude and positions itself downwind. The rotors initially consume a small amount of energy to produce thrust. The kite then transitions into crosswind flight.
Aerodynamic lift allows the wing to fly autonomously in loops optimized for maximum power generation by our flight controller. Wind propels the kite around the loop.VFX Breakdown - The Future of Wind Power? - Kite Power Systems (feat. Real Engineering)
The rotors spin, driving onboard generators to produce electricity that is transferred back to the ground via the tether. Today Clean, affordable power from the wind While at X, Makani evolved from a proof-of-concept kite to a commercial-scale prototype.
Enormous 'energy kite' promises a new way to harness wind power
Opens in new window Visit the Makani site.Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.
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Back in Google purchased a company called Makani, creators of the Energy Kite. Their goal is to make wind energy pricing competitive with fossil fuels, and they believe a new approach is needed.
Alphabet takes the wind out of its Makani energy kites
The kite is launched from a ground station using the rotors as helicopter blades until it reaches ft above ground. Once airborne, the system generates power by flying in large circles up high where the wind is stronger and more consistent. Rotors mounted on the kite wings drive generators that produce electricity. A strong conductive tether acts like the string of a kite and also carries energy back to the grid. Good to see corporations doing positive things, they have the money and power, if they want to be for the people this is the way!
Saw this coming from a mile away. Back inI attempted to patent a similar machine. My concept was a blimp rather than a kite, which could potentially minimize the power input required to get the machine at an appropriate altitude. At an altitude of only a few hundred feet above sea level, there are CONSTANT windspeeds that match or exceed our greatest recorded values for conventional wind turbines which only work when the wind is actually blowing at slightly above sea level. Also, because both of our concepts are airborne, and because windspeeds only a few hundred feet up are exceptionally high worldwide, these machines could potentially generate electricity in remote areas inaccessible to conventional power sources, or even in the middle of the ocean!
Better plan on using hydrogen. A great idea developers! I want to add more to your idea, Can you add a radio control circuit for your kite? Good luck for your project.
How would you like swarms of kite-like airborne turbines spinning at high altitudes sending power down via nano-tube cable tethers to generate power for your community? This could very.
A personal helicopter weighing just lb created sizzling news when it flew on hydrogen with zero emission. With an ability to carry payloads up to lbs. Yes, the day is not far off when reaching for sky is the new motto for generating cost-effective renewable energy.
Initially it was considered to be technically non-viable to. Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer, is the person who dreamed about the Puffin. Puffin is a single seated electric powered airplane. Moore conceptualized the idea of electric aircraft for. If UAVs starts running on the solar system, then it will save lots of expensive fossil fuel and the add-ons in the form of greenhouse effects. Researchers at the. The catch is that we have. Alternative Energy Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.
Mar Dipak Jairath. Manojb Gowda.