They have raised $20 million in funding to build their large-wind kites which are much superior to classic wind turbines, because these can only harvest winds at low altitudes. The firm also says that if we captured just a fraction of the high altitude wind energy worldwide, this would be enough to power the entire planet.
The first prototype has been a kite the size of a piano, at 600 meters altitude, in Maui. The kite had been kept aloft for a longer period of time through the usage of specialized electro-mechanical devices. One such kite could generate enough power for five US households having average electricity consumption.
A year an a half is the term Makani Power gives for the construction of their first 1 MW kite, following up with another year and a half of testing before finally producing it commercially. Corwin Hardham, CEO, says these kites are best for use offshore, where high altitude winds have higher speeds.
Of course, several issues involving the impact of these kites on flying birds will surely arise through the time, like it happened to all wind-based energy harvesting approaches.
[via Business Green]