Energy Kites: An Airborne Wind Turbine

by Alex Elder

Makani Power, acquired by Google X in 2013, is seeking to improve the modern wind turbine design in order to make wind power more efficient, cheaper, and less intrusive. Makani has developed an innovative new system of utilizing wind as a source of energy by using an “energy kite.” These kites are actually carbon fiber gliders which fly in circles while remaining tethered to the ground. This design allows the energy kites to reach higher altitudes than traditional wind turbines while significantly reducing the cost of materials for construction. Due to their lightweight design, the kites are more aerodynamic, and thus more energy efficient, than ground-based wind turbines. Because higher altitudes allow access to stronger and more consistent wind speeds, the kites can generate about 50% more energy than traditional wind energy technology. Continue reading