Name a method of generating power that's cheap, efficient, sustainable and sounds like something Mary Poppins dreamed up after downing 20 teaspoons of sugar. That's right -- kite power. One of the world's first non-experimental, kite-driven power stations will be established offshore in Southern Scotland, at the Ministry of Defence's West Freugh Range near Stranraer. UK company Kite Power Solutions plans to install a 500 kilowatt system that it expects will generate 'several hundred megawatts' of energy by 2025, Independent reports.
The project is backed by multinational oil company Royal Dutch Shell and the UK government, though Kite Power Solutions business development director David Ainsworth says the project will be "tariff-free." For one, the cost of mooring the kites is far less than mooring wind turbines, since the kite system essentially floats. The kites fly up to 450 meters in a figure-eight pattern and pull a tether attached to a turbine to produce electricity. Two kites alternately rising and falling ensures continuous power.
A single 40-meter-wide kite generates two to three megawatts of electricity and a field of roughly 1,000 kites "would produce as much electricity as the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station if the wind blew constantly," according to Independent.
The Stranraer region is inundated with wind and Kite Power Solutions expects just 10 days a year when the system won't generate power. In these cases, the company will use a small fan to keep the kites afloat as they wait for more wind.
Kite Power Solutions already established a small kite-power system in England's Essex county, and there's a large research project in Italy that uses kites to generate energy.