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Power Kites For Wind Energy Generation

Kite Energy Wind Power (kitegen):

Once you start using power kites, you will notice that kites have lots of energy, much more than any other traditional wind power device (traditional windmill or wind turbine). 

This power has been proven in recent decades to be one of the most promising and popular sources of clean energy using traditional devices. So why not kite energy?

Table of Contents

Advantages Of Kite Energy Systems

Many have thought just that in the last couple of years and have discovered that kites have lots more potential than traditional wind power devices:
  1. Kites fly higher, therefore have more consistent and cleaner wind.
  2. Kites do not require a massive supporting base tower and platform.
  3. Kites can fly across the wind window to generate even more energy than the wind can provide.
  4. Multiple kites can be easily stacked for more power.

Disadvantages Of Power Kites For Wind Energy Generation

However, kite power generation systems do have their own disadvantages:
  1. Kites require launching (after installation/maintenance and after a no wind period) and landing (in case of thunderstorm or hurricane).  Wind turbine towers have the same lightning problem during a thunderstorm but they do shut off in case of strong wind during a hurricane (modern wind turbines normally shut off when the wind reaches 90 km/hr and the whole structure can survive hurricane wind up to 220 km/hr, top range of Category 3 hurricane wind speed).
  2. Regulation and safety issues for high flying kites:
    • Not deployable within 5 miles radius of an airport
    • Need Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) from FAA.
    • Need lighting every 50 feet along its tether.
    • For self-floating kite, need Rapid Deflation Devices that can bring the kite down in case of escape from a mooring.
  1. Liability issues for kites landed on other people’s land.

Kitesurfing Energy Products

There were a few companies currently trying to enter the kite energy market and the main ones were: Skywindpower, Magenn, Sequoia Automation, and Briza Technologies. 

 

Skywindpower was promoting the Flying Electric Generator (FEG), Magenn was prototyping the Magenn Power Air Rotor System (MARS), Sequoia Automation introduced the Kite Generator, and Briza Technology aimed for the Hovering Wind Turbine Technology.

Laddermill & Makani Power Kites

Furthermore, there was the Laddermill project introduced in 2003 but apparently there is no new development since September 2003.

A few years later, Makani developed energy kites connected to wind energy to harness wind power. 

 

How Does Kite Power Work?

The video below shows how you as a kitesurfer can fly a power kite to generate energy. 

Flying An Electric Generator

The Sky WindPower Flying Electric Generator (FEG) is more a flying helicopter than a kite. Its rotating rotors help to fly the FEG and at the same time generate electricity. The power efficiency will be divided between supporting the kite and generating power. 

Furthermore, as the rotor is somewhat inclined, its “effective” swept area is less than that of a comparable wind turbine. The FEG, however, similar to a helicopter, can fly at high altitudes and should be able to offer more consistent and more efficient energy than a comparable wind turbine.

More info regarding the FEG can be found at skywindpower.com.

Magenn Power Air Rotor System (MARS)

The Magenn MARS is more a blimp than a kite. It is lighter than air and therefore can float during no-wind periods.  Once launched, the MARS does not have to be landed nor re-launched unless during a thunderstorm or hurricane. 

Its body rotates upward creating additional lift (Magnus effect) during periods with windy periods. This is a similar principle used in UFO kites. The rotation of the body can then be used to create electricity. 

Kite Power Generator for Surfers (kitenegy)

Kite Generator is a very interesting concept which has a closer root to kitesurfing than any other device. It actually makes use of the power of the kite diving flying across the power zone to turn a horizontal structure similar to a merry-go-round (turning around a vertical axis) to create electricity.

The kite flying zone is determined by the position of the kite attachment point (on the merry-go-round) while it rotates around the axis.  The positions are divided into 3 zones: left pull zone, right pull zone, and neutral zone.  While the kite is in the left pull zone, it will fly on the left side of the wind window to turn the merry-go-round.  Similarly, the kite will fly in the right wind window to turn the merry-go-round when it is in the right pull zone. When the kite is in a neutral zone, it must be kept in neutral, depowered mode such that it would not interfere with the pull of the other kites on the merry-go-round.

Flying Wind Power Is Hard To Control

One would need a very sophisticated control system to manipulate all these kite-flying exercises; however, the trade-off is the ability to harness the full power of the wind window which in turn will be able to generate much more electricity than the traditional wind turbines of comparable cost.

Similar to other kite energy devices, there are issues involve with the sophistication of the control of the kites and the launching and landing of the kites after periods of no wind or during thunderstorms or hurricanes; however, Kite Generator has lots of potentials as it is currently the only energy device that can harness the whole wind window power zone.

Kite Wind Turbines

The Hovering Wind Turbine from Briza Technologies was basically a series of wind turbines (Darrieus turbines with horizontal axis) with blimps situating in the wind shadow area of the turbines to keep the whole structure float during no wind periods.

The Hovering Wind Turbine was very similar to the Magenn MARS with the exception that the turbines and the blimps were not fully integrated as the case of the MARS and therefore needed a heavy frame to integrate the two structures. The advantage was that the blimps were behind the turbines and therefore had less drag.

Power Kites For Wind Energy Generation

Until we have a kite energy product in full operations, the jury is still out whether kite energy is as proven as a wind turbine.  To be more competitive than the current wind turbine and be practical, a kite energy solution should have one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. The kite should float (like the Magenn MARS and the Hovering Wind Turbine) such that no landing nor re-launching is needed during the no-wind periods. This allows it to operate in an unsupervised fashion similar to wind turbines.
  2. The kite should make use of the full power of the wind window (like the Kite Generator).  This would make it much more competitive than the current wind turbine.
  3. The kite should be “lightning safe” such that it does not need to be landed each time there is a thunderstorm. While a wind turbine does have a similar lightning risk as kites, it is normally lowered so has less risk.
  4. The kite energy system should be able to accommodate very strong wind (up to 120 km/hr, top range of tropical storm wind speed) during tropical storms (a somewhat frequent occurrence) such that it only needs to be landed for winds more than 120 km/hr during hurricanes (rarer occurrence).  Please note that even though modern wind turbines can survive category 3 hurricanes, most may be damaged in category 4 and especially category 5 hurricanes (such as Katrina). In the case of a kite, just land it and store it away for the duration of the hurricane.

Power Kitesurfing Energy Tech

This technology could be useful to support the heavy cable to conduct electricity from the kite down to earth. 

Let us know if you know of any other kite energy or related products.

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