In the Climate Generations area, I had the chance to see a presentation by Makani, Google’s incredibly innovative wind power company. Makani was acquired by Google’s secretive ‘[x]’ R&D division in 2013, it generates wind energy using giant drone-kites, and it’s exactly as cool as it sounds.
These “energy kites” are unspooled from an ultra-strong ground tether, reaching massively higher altitudes — and thus dramatically higher wind speeds — than traditional wind turbines. When they reach these winds, the kites arc through the wind, capturing power with incredible efficiency. When the wind dies down, the kites hover down to the ground and the tether is reeled in. With their small footprint and greater ability to capture sufficiently-fast winds, Makani’s energy kites are also suitable for locations that currently find wind power difficult to implement — including, potentially, offshore applications.
Makani’s technology has potentially game-changing implications for the wind power industry. I strongly encourage everyone to watch the absolutely fascinating demonstration video of a Makani energy kite in action on YouTube.