Makani Power is being acquired by Google. The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine is a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is stronger and more consistent. It eliminates 90% of the material used in conventional wind turbines, and can access winds both at higher altitudes and above deep waters offshore — resources that are currently untapped. Our goal is the utility-scale deployment of airborne turbines in offshore wind farms.
On May 3rd, 2012, Makani drafted specifications for a ground station from which our 30 kW airborne wind turbine could be deployed. On May 9th, 2013, after a year of mechanical design, fabrication and testing, the team completed the first-ever fully autonomous flight of a kite power system.
The above is a shortened video showing all flight modes, launch, hover, power generation, hover and land in real time. For an uncut view of the test, the following video shows the entirety of the flight at 5x speed.
The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) is a tethered wing outfitted with turbines. It flies between 250 and 600 meters (800 and 1,950 feet), where the wind is stronger and more consistent. Makani is developing a 600 kW AWT, for utility scale generation at a cost below conventional solar and wind.
The Makani AWT operates like a wind turbine. Air moving across the turbine blades forces them to rotate, driving a generator to produce electricity.
Due to its speed, the tip of a conventional wind turbine blade is the most effective part and is responsible for most of the energy produced. The Makani AWT takes advantage of this principle by mounting small turbine/generator pairs on a wing that itself acts like the tip of a traditional turbine blade. The wing flies across the wind in vertical circles, fixed to the ground by a flexible tether.
The M30 is a 30 kW, rapidly deployable AWT suitable for disaster relief or off-grid energy production. This product is currently under development at Makani Power.
The M600 is a 600 kW, midsize AWT developed for use onshore. Makani is at the beginning of a three year design, testing and commercialization process for the M600. A board of independent experts from the wind, aviation, manufacturing, and power development industries is advising Makani to ensure commercial readiness.
The M600 will be installed in onshore wind farms on the strength of its siting flexibility, improved low wind performance and increased capacity factor.
The final goal of Makani’s development program is a 5 MW system, the M5. The M5 has a wingspan of 70 meters (230 feet) and will operate at altitudes between 250 and 600 meters (800 and 1,950 feet). The M5 is being developed specifically for deep water offshore applications.
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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