Makani's energy kite is a smarter wind turbine

Makani's energy kite is an airborne wind turbine that aims to generate more energy, using less materials, at a lower cost.

Kites aren’t just for kids anymore. Just ask Makani Power, which is developing a smart energy kite that can generate up to 50 percent more electricity than a conventional wind turbine.

The company has been part of Google X since 2013, working to come up with a new, more efficient way to transform wind into energy.

To do that, Makani has built a craft that actually looks more like a drone but is tethered to the ground like a kite. It has four main components: the kite, the tether, a ground station, and a computer.

Eight rotors on the kite function much like the blades on a wind turbine. As the craft flies in a circular path, air moving across the rotors drives a generator which produces electricity. The electricity travels down the wire tether and is transferred to the ground station.

The station takes up significantly less space than a conventional wind turbine, and it can be installed in places not suitable for conventional turbines, such as areas that are too hilly or remote. The ground station also makes it easy to maintain the craft, which can be reeled in on its tether when it’s time for a service.

The kite can reach higher altitudes than a conventional turbine, so it has access to stronger, more consistent winds, and the computer is key to making the whole system efficient. Using a GPS and various sensors, it makes makes thousands of real time calculations to ensure the kite stays on the optimal path.

That’s important, Makani says, because whenever the wind speed doubles, the amount of available power increases eightfold.

Makani energy kite rotors Martyn Williams

The rotors on the Makani energy kite function like the blades of a wind turbine, driving a generator to produce electricity. 

Makani doesn not have energy kites on the market yet, but is currently working on its latest prototype, the M600. It has eight brushless motors and is able to produce 600 kilowatts of power. The company did not say when it would release the product commercially.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Magdalena Petrova

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?