Energy Kites - Google Wind Power
|Source: Alphabet's Makani|
The Makani Energy Kite Update
Google's parent company Alphabet is behind this brilliant innovation incubator. The X Factory's mission is to develop moonshots that deliver a factor of 10 times positive impact on pressing world problems rather than just 10%. They have a big focus on developing renewable energy, particularly game-changing wind power technology. Here's an update on their project Makani, the world's first commercial scale, energy kite that can generate electricity from wind with 8 onboard rotors.
Power of the Wind thru a Flying Wing
X has done at least 8 generations of prototypes on Makani, increasing its size and technical sophistication. They now have a high performance carbon-fiber kite with the wingspan of a small jet. It can produce 600 kilowatts of electricity to power 300 homes. This technology is under development to further build it out.
Air, Energy Dynamics & GPS
Here's how it works. The propellers on the wing act like rotors on a helicopter to take off. It takes off perpendicular to the wind. When it reaches 1000 feet, it begins looping around, like a kite in high winds, without consuming any energy. The air forces the rotors to rotate driving a generator to produce electricity. The electricity travels to the ground on a tether. The kite is guided by GPS and other sensors including bringing it in for a landing.
New Heights for Flying a Kite
The key for the X team is building this tech out and reaching new altitudes where the winds are stronger and more reliable for sustainable sources of wind power. X is focused on soaring with the wind which is something that land based turbines can't do. Have to love this because it's inspired by just flying a kite. Now with a lot more purpose.