Science

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Researchers Harness Wind Energy With Kites

August 08, 2008 08:59 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
Kite flying could become more than a pastime now that European researchers have used a kite to create energy.

30-Second Summary

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Scientists from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have successfully used a giant kite to produce 10 kilowatts of power—enough to provide electricity to 10 family homes. They hope to produce enough to power 100,000 homes through further development of their experiment.

The kite creates energy by pulling on a string attached to a generator. When it reaches maximum altitude, it is reeled in and released into the wind again.

Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution, says the energy contained in the wind could be 100 times the amount needed by everyone on the planet.

The wind researchers need to access is at high altitudes, however. Standard wind turbines are 80 meters tall, where wind speed is nearly five meters per second. At 800 meters high, an altitude kites could reach, the wind speed is seven meters per second. “It would be virtually impossible to build a standard turbine to take advantage of the wind at 800 meters,” explains The Observer.

Wind energy has drawn support from big names in the business world. In 2007, Google.org, the philanthropic division of Google, invested in Makani Power Inc., a company testing high-altitude wind extraction technologies. Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens recently released his plan to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Pickens’s strategy includes a significant emphasis on wind energy.

Nick Rau, an energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said, “We have an abundance of renewable energy and there are a lot of visionary technologies coming along so that, in future, the sky’s the limit.”

Headline Link: ‘Giant Kites to Tap Power of the High Wind’

Historical Context: Benjamin Franklin flies his kite

Related Topic: Studying wind power and renewable energy

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