It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s . . . a kite?

eWind kite

E-Wind Solutions, a company in Oregon, is developing a way to generate electricity from tethered kites. Bjarke Kronborg, Director of Business Development, describes the technology as a box kite crossed with a World War II-era biplane. As the wind pulls the kite back and forth, it turns a rotor in a generator on the ground. Currently in the prototype stage, the ten-kilowatt system generates almost four times as much electricity as a comparable backyard wind turbine.

KRONBORG: “Over a year, we can produce about 50,000 kw hours per system.”

That’s enough to power about five households. The kites are very efficient because they fly between three and five-hundred feet, where wind is fairly consistent. By contrast, backyard wind turbines stand less than one hundred feet tall, and can be affected by turbulence.

KRONBORG: “So we’re able to produce wind power with utility scale efficiencies, but for small wind systems.”

The technology should be commercially available by 2018, and will likely be deployed in rural areas since the kites require a lot of airspace. But their footprint on the ground is small, so farmers could work the land below while the kites fly above. So perhaps the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind . . .

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: The eWind “kite” (source: eWindSollutions website).

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