Hebridean engineer uses kite science to develop affordable and scalable wind power system
As countries move to reduce their carbon emissions, wind generators have become the most widely implemented renewable energy sources. However, wind turbines are expensive to set up and operate. Construction consumes vast amounts of energy and resources, requires significant long-term investment and involves complex planning procedures.
The use of kites as wind power generators avoids the need for a fixed tower, enabling access to higher altitudes, and hence stronger, more laminar airflow. Thus energy creation is cheaper and more efficient than the wind turbine alternative.
Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) are not a new concept. However, many systems under development, such as Google’s Makani, tend to require complex computer controlled hardware to steer the flying turbines accurately, making them expensive and introducing operational risk.
Hebridean engineer, Rod Read, has developed a system using spinning kites tethered to a ground-based turbine. (think of the spinning red parafoils on the BBC ident) The turbine only uses kite parts without needing controls, making it lightweight and affordable. Working in an open source hardware environment, Rod has spent the last five years perfecting his design and his company is now selling these scalable kite power systems online. Further R&D on his system designs is being carried out in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde and TU Delft in the Netherlands.
Rod explains “Power to weight ratio is key to the efficiency of flying wind turbines. The advantage of using kites is their lightweight construction. My system ties the kites in a simple rigging arrangement which can be set up quickly and easily, even in terrain where you couldn’t transport a regular turbine. This first system is designed to be affordable for personal use, for example when camping, but the science which guided the design allows it to be scaled up to provide enough power for grid and utility uses.”
More information, including explanatory videos, can be found at – http://windswept-and-
Contact Rod: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 1851 870878