Kite power demonstration plant being built in Scotland
Image credit: Dziewul/Dreamstime
Two massive kites will be generating power in Scotland in a first-of-its-kind project that promises to cut the cost of wind energy generation.
The project, by Kite Power Solutions, will see the two kites, each about 70 square metres in size, attached to spool drums connected to electricity turbines.
The kites are also connected to each other. When one of them catches the wind, it can rise up to an altitude of 750 metres, while the other one is drawn to the ground. When high up in the air, the kite, pulling its tether, flies in a figure-of-eight pattern, generating electricity.
The pioneering power station, currently being built at the Ministry of Defence’s West Freugh range in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, will be in operation by March 2017. The demonstration plant will generate about 500kW of electrical energy. The team hopes the project will lead to a commercial-scale kite farm in a few years.
One full-sized kite could generate 2-3MW of electricity, the company said, which is equivalent to the output of a 100m conventional wind turbine.
“This is the third evolution of our technology and the next step after the 500kW will be to develop a 3MW system at West Freugh, which is planned for 2019,” said David Ainsworth, the firm’s business development director.
“We believe that we will be able to halve the cost of offshore wind. We can install offshore wind installations at a much lower price and can produce offshore wind without the need for government subsidies.”
According to Ainsworth, the cost of kite power is about 4p per kilowatt-hour, compared to 9p/kWh for an offshore wind farm.
The technology was previously tested on a smaller scale in Essex. A similar concept has been tested by researchers in Italy.
“Kite power technology offers the prospect of an exciting new way to harness the power of the wind, particularly in places where it might be impractical to erect a wind turbine,” WWF Scotland director Lang Banks commented on the development.
“Alongside energy reduction schemes and other renewables, this technology could contribute to helping us to end our addiction to climate-changing fossil fuels.”