A new power generating technology has recently given the phrase “go higher” a new meaning. The KiteGen technology has literally taken the wind turbines to new heights never dreamed before, way more than 100 metres. The reason? The upper they go, the more chance they have of capturing stronger winds and increasing their efficiency (although some recent studies say that isn’t necessarily true).
This is how the KiteGen systems work: a dome base is the home for avionic sensors and an electric generator. The sensors automatically control the tied-up kites and make them follow a fixed flight path. This in turn triggers the rotation of turbines at the ground and increases the torque.
Two major advantages derive from this process: as previously stated, they stand a much better chance to catch high altitude winds and thus produce more energy – an estimated 500 Gwh / year; but they also stretch on a smaller surface than traditional wind turbine farms (for example, some 250 to 300 square kilometers of a 1000 MW wind turbine farm cannot compare to the 5 or 6 square kilometers that a KiteGen installation occupies).
Also, the energy cost would not leave your pockets empty: $0.02-$0.05 per kWh instead of $0.05-$0.09 per kWh if you were to use fossil energy or $0.15 per kWh in the case of other windmills.
If the project turns out to be a success, then we have Massimo Ippolito to thank, the man who invented the KiteGen system in 2007. Based in Chieri, near Turin, Italy, its engineers have teamed up with Sequoia Automation S.r.l. for technical software development and the mechanical engineering part, but still need funds for a full-sized model, the next step after the standardization process.
Mike is a master student of graphic design and is particularly interested in green designs and green technologies that affect people directly. Besides publishing, he supervises any changes in the site's aesthetics. The current logo is his concept.
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Here is a video of march 2012 with the industrial prototype flying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJp9WM_hzyg&feature=youtu.be
Over 800 stakeholders in AWES or airborne wind energy systems or "kite energy systems" gather at EnergyKiteSystems and have an open public forum AirborneWindEnergy in the Yahoo! space. Programmers, engineers, scientists, builders, technicians, researchers, and more are being attracted to the challenges involved. It is a spectacularly interesting field.