One curious idea to solve the world’s energy problems involves using kites, which may harness winds turbines cannot reach.
Roland Schmehl is an associate professor at Delft University and has a background in computational fluid dynamics. Schmehl also has an interesting idea. He believes kites may be just the tool we need to provide the world with renewable energy. He believes conventional wind turbines can only make use of a tiny bit of the energy available in the wind and that kites could access airflow at greater altitudes which flow with more consistency.
“The first time I came in contact with this technology in 2009 when I took the position at this university,” he explains, “it was amazing for me to see the prototype system that was built by this group, to see how this 25 square meter kite in action on the airfield would fly 70 to 90 kilometers per hour.” The experience sold him on the idea that kites could make a difference in renewable energy.
Schmehl told reports at The Guardian earlier this week that a 25 meter kite could power as much as 40 homes. The technology involves tethering the kite to a generator on the ground. The key to getting it to work lies in synchronizing the generator with the flight dynamics of the kite. The kite goes through a reel-out and a reel-in phase. Once the cable is completely pulled out, it is rotated into the wind and pulled back in. By rotating the kite, it uses less energy during the roll-in, thereby making it cost effective.