Energy producing stunt kites could better energy output of wind turbines


Even after being the third largest producer of wind power in the world, Germany has ambitious energy targets for the future, with a claim of generating up to 60 percent of the country’s total energy requirement using renewable sources. Researchers and companies in the country are working hard to develop innovative systems that can fulfill the growth in energy demand in an environmentally friendly fashion. Berlin-based wind energy developed NTS GmbH too has come up with a dynamic idea to produce wind energy using stunt kites.

A modern stunt kite is capable of being much more than mere sporting equipment and the idea here is to use the kite’s aerial movement to drive a generator that converts the kinetic energy of the kite into usable electricity. To make the concept a reality, the company has joined forces with Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart. The team is now working to develop a kite and a control mechanism along with the generator that can harness the power of strong winds at altitudes of up to 500 meters.

Being perfectly positioned to capture strong winds, the kites would be tethered to vehicles using cables around 700 meters in length. The vehicles will be made to run around a circuit on rails and their energy harnessed to produce usable electricity. The team is confident that the energy yield of a kite exceeds that of a wind turbine and depending on the wind conditions, eight kites with a combined surface area of 300sqm can equate to 20 conventional one-megawatt wind turbines.

For efficient generation of electricity, the team is working to develop a control unit that can control the kite’s movement as it follows either a figure-of-eight or a sine-wave flight path. The team is proposing the use of computers that could be used to achieve fully automatic control of the kites. According to the simulations carried out, a total of 24 kites can generate 120GWh of electricity a year, which could eventually replace 30 two-megawatt wind turbines and power around 30,000 urban homes.

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