Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Could airborn wind technology replace the costly, ineffective and ugly conventional wind turbines?

When I first saw the video below, I thought it was a joke. A kite actually producing energy?

However, after reading what the conservative German daily Die Welt writes about wind kites as a possible future alternative for the ugly, ineffective and costly ordinary wind turbines, I think that this new technology at least deserves some serious attention. Energy kite technology could, according to Die Welt, produce energy at a fraction of the cost for conventional wind turbines, offshore wind turbines included. Expenditure on materials is also 95% smaller. An additional bonus: Kites do not destroy the landscape like ordinary wind turbines do.

No wonder that the conventional wind turbine industry is, according to Die Welt, doing its best to ignore the newcomers, who have organized their own Airborn Wind Energy Conference in Berlin.

This is how the company EnerKite describes the energy kites compared with ordinary wind turbines:

Today's wind turbines supply their rated output less than a quarter of time. At inland sites the gondolas grow on expensive towers into the heights of more persistent winds. Offshore apart from the grid connection also the costs of the complex foundation push up the prices for environmentally friendly energy.

For the use of steady and strong winds above the hub heights of conventional wind-power plants onshore as well as offshore, kite wings offer a unique potential. The savings in the field of foundation, tower and blades are made possible by most modern control technology and efficient wing design. Wind energy from EnerKites one day could be more favourable than those from fossil fuels. --

 EnerKites work in two phases. In the working phase, the wing is flying cross wind, pulling out the tether with optimal force and speed. This drives the rope drum, in which the generator is mounted. In the recovery phase, the wing is returning back to the starting point as fast and smooth as possible, here the cycle closes. In the long working phase the force is ten times higher than in the recovery phase, therefore the energy balance is positive. The autonomous control manages the cycle, limits the peak loads and determines the optimal flight path in changing wind conditions. Unlike standard wind turbines, the electric energy is generated at the ground station, from where the wing is also controlled. Accordingly, the number of airborne components is minimized.

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