Popular Science’s most recent magazine (on newstands Sept ,2009) has a brief two paragraphs which indicate that Kitegen is building a 3 megawatt system with 1500 square foot kite sail. This is scheduled to be completed in 2011. This is 75 times larger power than a 40 kilowatt demo system that was produced.
•max power: 40 kW
•lines length: 1000 m
•kite area: up to 20 m^2
The new system will have
•max power: 3000 kW
•kite area: up to 150 m^2
OTHER HIGH ALTITUDE WIND PROJECTS
* Sky WindPower, S. Diego
* MagennPower, Ottawa
* Laddermill, Delft University
The winds in high-altitude jet streams hold roughly 100 times more energy than all the electricity being consumed on Earth, according to a study by Stanford environmental and climate scientists Cristina Archer and Ken Caldeira.
High-altitude winds hold a huge energy potential waiting to be harnessed. “If you tapped into 1 percent of the power in high-altitude winds, that would be enough to continuously power all civilization,” Caldeira said. In comparison, similar solar cells would cover roughly 100 times more area than a high-altitude wind turbine, he said.
Archer and Caldeira found the highest wind densities over Japan, eastern China, the eastern coast of the United States, southern Australia and northeastern Africa. Included in the analysis were assessments of wind energy above the world’s five largest cities: Tokyo, New York, São Paulo, Seoul and Mexico City. “New York … has the highest average high-altitude wind power density of any U.S. city,” Archer said.
In order to capture the energy in these jet streams, manufacturers are developing a variety of kite turbines that convert kinetic energy in wind to electricity. Manufacturer Sky WindPower designed a model consisting of a single tethered kite of four connected turbines, each with spinning rotors. The kite transfers the electricity back to a hub on the ground through its tether.
Another model, being developed by Kite Gen, looks like a rotating carousel, based on the ground, with several kites tethered to it. Each kite’s flight pattern is controlled from the ground to capture the most wind, and as the kites circle in the air, they catch the wind and tug on their tethers. The tension triggers a pulley system that converts the energy of motion to electricity.
Though sky-high currents offer huge potential, kite fliers face the challenge of a fluctuating wind. “While the winds at high altitude are much more consistent than the winds at the surface, they’re still not consistent enough,” Caldeira said. For example, if you flew a kite turbine in your backyard to power a house, at some times the wind would blow and at other times, it wouldn’t, he said. As a result, there would be gaps in the flow of electricity.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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