Switzerland has bought us many things: the cuckoo clock, cheese with holes in it, and.. kite power? That’s the idea of a Swiss project that is trying to tap the energy of a regular wind that blows between Lake Geneva and the Alps. The group hopes to build large kites that fly at about 150 meters above the ground, with a generator and other components on the ground. The way that this wind energy is converted into electricity is interesting: the kite is pulled up by the wind, spiraling higher and pulling the cable which drives the generator. Once it reaches a maximum height, the kite is trimmed so it sinks down to a lower altitude, and the kite is trimmed again to catch the wind and climb.
It’s a fascinating idea: by controlling the kites, the system could produce power on demand. As long as the wind is up, of course, but in this region of Switzerland, that isn’t an issue, as the wind is very predictable. It doesn’t require as much permanent infrastructure as a wind turbine, and kites are much more attractive than turbines. This makes us wonder if a system like this would be adaptable to a smaller scale: could you build a portable or off-grid system for hiking in windy areas that could charge a battery this way?
The project webpage hasn’t seen any updates since 2013, but the research project seems to still be alive and kicking. Anyone have any details or wild speculation?
(Related, but only tangentially, video of Thomas Dolby lip-synching below the break.)
Via The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, thanks to [Austin Bentley]
18 thoughts on “Swiss Project Looking To Harness Kite Power”
It would be better to have two kites so that the direction and force of the cable travel was a product of the relationship between the two connected kites. Like this fire bow, but with the string geometry folded so both ends are down wind of the turning part, and obviously it would not go back and forth as fast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuRsZghPFYQ
“This makes us wonder if a system like this would be adaptable to a smaller scale: could you build a portable or off-grid system for hiking in windy areas that could charge a battery this way?”
You mean like this?
Google is your friend.
What how do I get Switzerland to buy me things? I could use a big block of swiss and a cuckoo…
Anyway cool idea.
Makani Power has been at this a while: https://www.google.com/makani
these guys are also at it for a while:
It’s seems to be a project of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, missing a student to do it.
The cuckoo clock is NOT swiss, it’s from south Germany. But we have Rolex, Omega, Swatch…
I wonder why there aren’t smaller-scale toy generators that can be put on regular old kites to illuminate them at night with LEDs, or to at least charge a battery like a solar light would to the same effect?
How long would one of those little brushed 7 or 8.5mm motors that quadcopters use hold up in this application, perhaps using a geared assembly from a quad as well?
It is easy to find at least one phd per uni, who is trying to do the same thing on these kites. At least here in Europe.
I think these kites are among the silliest ideas yet in renewable energy. Scaling these systems to produce significant amounts of power while dealing with a raft of safety issues that come from flying large masses of anything is not going to be trivial.
Air density is about 1kg per cubic meter, water is about a thousand times more dense and thus much better for power generation (for the same flow rate); surely Switzerland has some fast flowing mountain streams that could push against a surface linked to a generator …. oh, I think that’s been done before.
Mind you, I’d love to see a working kite generator system, it would be quite a sight.
Benjamin Franklin would love this.
The SwissKitePower project indeed wrapped up in 2013, but key members of the group as well as all institutes (FHNW, Empa, ETH and EPFL) are involved in follow-up project as well as a spin-off company:
Stay tuned to http://twingtec.ch/news/ for updates.
co-founder and CTO
a co-worker of mine was working with KiteGenVenture a while ago. they try to get the energy out of the wind by flying the kites in a 8-shape. that way the energy flow is somewhat constant.
how far they all are isnt really clear. but the technology looks good.
I saw this in my RSS feed reader and it reminded me of work previously done by some radiant energy technology inventors and electrical engineers for drawing energy out of the electric condition of earth. I understand the idea is principally to capture the kinetic energy from wind, but there is also electric energy in the very air blowing against the kites and bordering the atmosphere at the ionosphere and earth.
Developing and attaching some radiant energy technology to capture ions and send atmospheric electricity down the line for collection as dc-biased (polyphase?) ac power would potentially increase the energy yields, nikolai tesla would definitely endorse modifying these kites in such a way, especially with the research and work done by Hermann Plauson. Using these kites to generate electrostatic energy could expand their ‘current’ capabilities. One could use such kites as toploads for an earth electrical condition energy system as described by nikolai tesla and eric dollard. Also, the use of nano-antennas to use the potential difference in heat across both sides of the kite could be used to further boost power production, there may even someday be the inclination to use graphene solar panels on them but the efficiency would not be expected to be incredibly high due to the large variation in angle of incident radiation.
By assembling the kites as toploads for an atmospheric energy generator, one could tap the dielectric energy condition between the ionosphere and the ground. Using wind kinetic force alone should be used to drive multiphase AC generators (3-12 phases?) for synchronization and distribution or stored directly though use of capacitive-electrostatic ‘inverse-motor’ generators as converters for storing the power in super-capacitors until needed. Green super-capacitors made principally of graphene and nano-celluose could be recyclable and bio-degradable making this new form of renewable energy system more economical and environmentally friendly.
As somebody mentioned, using kites flown in a double torus (figure-8) or triple torus (Pretzel-style) would increase/stabilize the net power flow, in particular concerning the triple torus, using 12 or 36 kites would be a good symmetric number for both the kinetic energy generation and the electrical condition manipulation for implementing an atmospheric energy system. I imagine it would be relatively easy to convert the system for pumping liquids across a distance using tesla turbines driven by the kinetic energy of the kites after a direction biasing and resetting mechanism is established.
(http://free-energy-info.co.uk/Chapter7.pdf)::[Aerial Systems and Electrostatic Generators]
(http://www.rexresearch.com/atmoselx/atmoselx.htm)::[Atmospheric & RF Electricity Collectors]
(rexresearch.com/plauson/plauson.htm)::[Hermann PLAUSON – Conversion of Atmospheric Electricity]
(http://www.electrostatics.org/images/A2.pdf)::[The Fair-Weather Atmosphere as a Power Source]
(http://www.tuks.nl/pdf/Eric_Dollard_Document_Collection/Theory%20of%20Wireless%20Power%20by%20Eric%20Dollard.pdf)::[Eric Dollard – Theory of Wireless Power]
(http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/03/infrared-new-renewable-energy-source)::[Infrared: A new renewable energy source?]
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_atmospheric_electrical_circuit)::[Global atmosphere electrical circuit]
(http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0506077.pdf)::[The global atmospheric electrical circuit and clima
(http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijge/2011/971302/)::[Electrodynamical Coupling of Earth’s Atmosphere and Ionosphere: An Overview]
All of these schemes would be far more trouble than they are worth
I figured it was worth mentioning, though I agree with you that the kite based wind power is a complex and mostly difficult to maintain and control compared to other methods of power generation. The reason I spoke about the atmospheric electrical energy component was to help improve the idea and the potential routes of development that others may take while working on their own related project. I will admit I jumped at the opportunity to mention these methods due to the kite wind power electric generation having a similar look and feel to work Hermann Plauson did and wanting to make people more aware of that effort of generating energy; For Plauson’s work, they used specially constructed balloons and the project was found infeasible due to the high resource consumption on maintaining the balloons so they were continually aloft, given the context of this thread, the kites being between Lake Geneva and the Alps with a constant current of wind flowing past them and keeping them airborne, the work Plauson did may have a revival. I was suggesting those methodologies to expand the current concept, I cannot comment on how effective or productive they would be, but I have tested some very basic devices related to atmospheric electricity and radiant energy and I can confirm they do indeed function and that the technology is totally engineerable.
Thank you for your feedback, have a great day and keep thinking critically.
If you want to see that Kite energy can be done in a simple cheap prototype… I put one here on Hackaday ages back. https://hackaday.io/project/1743-daisy-kite-airborne-wind-turbine Must update it a bit more
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