E.ON is fostering the development of a game-changing technology to produce power from wind by investing in a British start-up, Kite Power Solutions. The investment will support KPS’s technical and commercial development of its pioneering high-altitude wind power generation technology. Instead of a rotor, KPS’s technology is harvesting wind by using a sail comparable to kite surfing in altitudes up to 450 meters.
The investment is part of a fund of approximately €6 million from E.ON, Schlumberger, and Shell Technology Ventures.
The potential is to transform the global offshore wind generation market as the system is cheaper to manufacture and easier to deploy and maintain than conventional wind turbines. The cost potentially is so low that kite power generation would not need government incentives. Additionally it can be deployed in waters deeper than 40 meter found offshore of countries such as Portugal, Japan, and the United States. Of course, kite power systems can also be deployed onshore.
The KPS power system has two kites that are flown as high as 1500 feet (450m); their tether is attached to a winch system that generates electricity as it spools out. By achieving flight speeds of up to 100mph (45m/s) in 20mph (9m/s) winds, the kite’s tether tension causes the line to rapidly spool out from a drum, which turns a generator producing electricity.
This latest investment will support KPS’s plans to deploy a 500 kilowatt power system at West Freugh in Southwest Scotland next year, leading to an onshore demonstration array of multiple 500 kilowatt systems within the next four years. Thereafter, KPS will develop a 3 megawatt onshore system and then deploy a similar sized power system in offshore waters.
Paul Jones, Chief Financial Officer of KPS, said, “The new investment from three major international businesses is an endorsement of the R&D work that the KPS team has carried out and demonstrates support for our technology and our business. The backing of these companies will accelerate KPS’s commercial development plans towards deploying lower cost, deep-water offshore wind energy on a global scale.”
“E.ON has been looking into airborne wind technologies for five years,” said Frank Meyer, Senior Vice President B2C & Innovation at E.ON. “It supports one of our overall targets to drive down the costs for renewable energy. In addition to this, we catch the opportunity to be a first mover in producing renewable energy at locations where it is for economic and technical reasons not possible today.”
E.ON continues to promote innovation by making strategic co-investments in start-ups whose intelligent solutions are helping to shape tomorrow’s energy market. To date, E.ON has taken stakes in more than a dozen start-ups in the US, Europe, and Australia.