Scottish finance backs kite power company

Posted: June 24, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, wind
Tags: ,

Credit: Kite Power Systems [click to enlarge]

It may be hard to imagine large scale use of kites to generate electricity, but this is the concept being tested in Scotland with some big name backers behind it.

Kite Power Systems (KPS) has secured £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) says Utility Week.

The Scottish economy secretary, Keith Brown confirmed the news yesterday (22 June), following a visit to Kellwood Engineering in Dumfries, where KPS’s latest 500kw demonstration model is being built. Brown said the company’s approach to wind energy “shows great promise”.

“The company has recently relocated from Essex to Glasgow and this £2 million investment from the SIB will enable it to expand further and demonstrate the latest iteration of its kite power technology in Scotland,” he added.

KPS has developed a power system that features two kites, which fly up to an altitude of 1500 feet. Both kites are attached by tethers to a winch system, which generates electricity as the winch spools out. 

The firm has been flight-testing its current 40kW system there over the past few weeks and has secured planning consent to deploy the new 500kW power system later this year. This will lead to a planned onshore demonstration array of multiple 500kW systems within the next three or four years.

The SIB is the latest investor in KPS, joining Eon, Schlumberger and Shell Technology Ventures, who announced a combined £5 million investment in the company in December 2016.

Full report: Utility Week – Scottish Investment Bank backs kite power company
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How does it work? – KPS

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Euan Mearns and Kite Gen will not be very happy with that, Kite Gen has been working on an almost identical system for some time.

  2. Curious George says:

    This is how it should work – private enterprises taking the risk and maybe getting a reward. I hope there is not much taxpayer’s money in this project.

  3. AlecM says:

    Bait for kite hawks?

  4. oldbrew says:

    The SIB £2m is public money.

  5. TA says:

    Yeah, that’s what we need, thousands of tethers in the sky.

    How about a nice, compact non-air-polluting, nuclear reactor, instead?

  6. AlecM says:

    @TA: that’s a bit unclear; can you clarify?

  7. The Badger says:

    No doubt the investors have considered all of the following before parting with the moolah:

    The failure mode is for the kite itself to detach from the tether at which point the tether falls to the ground or, more likely, across the local 11kV overhead lines of its neighbouring generating unit. I suppose this is solved by having them all offshore and an exclusion zone of 1km all around to avoid possible entanglement of shipping. Presumably they also have to be spaced out to avoid a dropping tether taking out one or more additional units. Could generate extra jobs for people skilled at unravelling knots maybe. You are also going to generate a significant area of the sky unsuitable for aircraft, helicopters, etc, so would have to be pretty remote if you have a big array of them. Is there ever a situation of no wind over the range of height possible? If so where do the kites go then?

    Presumably a maximum possible wind lift has to be calculated so that the generating unit is not encouraged to go airborne itself. Shaft stress/forces on the bearings must be fun to calculate.
    Will birds be able to avoid the tether? Does it make a noise?

    OK, that will do for now, just 10 minutes off the top of my head.

  8. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Kites to generate power? Hahahahaha.

  9. ivan says:

    Boys and their toys or another fine mess some public body (SIB) has got the public into.

    Presumably the private investors are gleefully rubbing their hands together and drooling over the renewable subsidies they expect to get even if little or no power is generated.

    From an engineering viewpoint it is much too complex and has far too many potential points of failure. While it might work on a small scale with very low efficiency scaling it up increases potential problems by at least an order of magnitude on the ground instillation.

  10. Mjw says:

    What happens when the wind changes direction or drops or stops. Do you have to clear a radius of 1500 metres to allow recovery of the kites. How many workers are required to operate the system..

  11. Curious George says:

    Engineering? This is about Scottish finance supporting the Scotch.

  12. hunter says:

    It is interesting to wonder why so-called “environmentalists” want to pollute the plains, the hill sides, the ridge lines and the skies themselves with unworkable, unstable, Brobdingnagian devices and claim these huge dangerous windmills, massive solar arrays, and now giant kites (!) represent salvation of the planet. Sort of a pseudo-scientific idolatry.
    None of those devices will ever, in any combination, make anything close to a substantial amount of the energy the world needs.
    And kites….kites that require a huge fraction of the each kite to reel in and control the reel out these huge useless dangerous devices.
    Before this madness blows itself out we will see insane ideas even closer than this to perpetual motion getting money.

  13. JB says:

    Hard to know whether its the Scottish engineers or the investors who have had too much Scotch.

  14. tom0mason says:

    However the initial prototypes had some teething problems….

    Kite generated power?
    Heath Robinson would be proud of such an idea…

  15. Damian Scott says:

    “Yeah, that’s what we need, thousands of tethers in the sky.

    How about a nice, compact non-air-polluting, nuclear reactor, instead?”

    Environmentalists don’t hate nuclear power plants for the damage they do to the environment. They hate them because of the product – energy.
    Cheaper, cleaner energy means more production/consumption, which is what they really despise.
    The cheaper, cleaner and more efficient the energy source becomes, the more strident their objections. This is why solar, wind and tidal power is supported, because it does not produce much energy.

    Environmentalists are anti civilisation. They are barbarians.

  16. oldbrew says:

    Norway is also in the game…

    KITEMILL develops Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) technology based on the strong and consistent winds at altitudes 500 – 1500 meters above ground level. AWE will be especially suited to change the global energy mix as the Levelized Cost of Energy will drop due to reduced investment cost combined with increased energy yield. The geographical market increases as AWE are not as sensitive to near ground wind conditions as conventional wind turbines.

  17. Gino Barabino says:

    A C Osborn said:
    Kite Gen has been working on an almost identical system for some time

    Could you tell how much energy did Kitegen produce in that time?

    Thank you.


  18. wolsten says:

    I think it is about time that we announced our own renewable energy scheme. Pretty sure after only a few beers down the local we could come up with something exciting and equally “plausible/investable”. As they say if you can’t beat them. I have the beginning of an idea involving rolling large stones down hills which I am happy to share…

  19. David A says:

    Wolsten, humm?? Yes there are lots of hills with lots of stones in this world. The potential energy must be enormous!

  20. TA says:

    AlexM, to clarify, we should stop cluttering up and damaging our environment with ridiculous things like windmills and thousands of tethers in our sky, and focus on practical solutions like investing in and building more nuclear power reactors.

    If environmentalists want to reduce the CO2 content in the atmosphere, then nuclear is the way to go. Windmills and solar thermal and Kites are distractions, that don’t help the problem, and end up creating problems of their own, including being a blight on the landscape, and a danger to millions of animals whose evironment they disrupt.

    We are making solving this “problem” much harder than it has to be. Environmenalists should open their eyes and wake up from that dreamstate they are in. Reality is calling.

  21. peterandnen says:

    Now there is one way to get serious quantities of energy from flying kites. Ben Franklin did this in 1752. Several people tried the same experiment later and were electrocuted! I guess there is a moral here: Bright sparks investing in kite power get burnt.

  22. tom0mason says:

    Why not get investors interested in an underwater scheme based on this idea but using tidal wash as the motive power. Must be worth a punt.