Dutch startup Kitepower has developed a large kite that can generate electricity for about 100 households. This can be achieved with significantly less building and construction costs than a conventional wind turbine, and with a much smaller C02 footprint. That smaller footprint (“Product Carbon Footprint”) can be measured with software from the Swiss company Ecospeed.
Instead of a traditional wind turbine, with a tower, a cabin and three rotors, this Dutch startup has taken a completely different approach to generating wind energy. The fact that one of the founders is a passionate kite surfer already gives a hint about the new concept, which is also reflected in the company name “Kitepower.”
The idea is as follows: a ground station, housed in a 20-foot container, is connected to a line to which is attached a robot that controls a kite of about 60 m2. The kite is steered so that it makes eight looping movements until it reaches the end of the rope. Once there, the kite is reeled in by a winch and then looped back to the highest point. This cycle takes about 100 seconds, with the motor/generator using about 20% of the energy generated to retrieve the kite. The remaining 80% can be delivered to the grid as electricity or consumed on site.
In this way, one Falcon kite generates about 450 MWh of energy per year. This is enough to power about one hundred households continuously, with minimal use of land area and impact on landscape views. A Kitepower system also uses 90% less material than a traditional wind turbine.
The concept of generating energy with kites is based on the principle that at higher altitudes (350 to 1000 meters) there is more and more constant wind. Moreover, it offers other advantages. Johannes Peschel, one of the founders, explains: “A kite installation is mobile. No foundations are needed, it can be quickly built up on site and is suitable for integration into hybrid stations with diesel generators and batteries. In addition, temporary deployment is possible, for example in humanitarian missions or events such as festivals.”
The functionality of the concept has been demonstrated during the first tests on the Caribbean island of Aruba. As a result, other investors stepped in for a new round of financing at Kitepower in late 2022. Peschel said: “We are currently preparing production for the first series of installations. At the end of 2023, one of these plants will undergo an endurance test in Ireland, in cooperation with one of the largest energy companies in Europe.”
Measuring the “Carbon Footprint” of a kite-wind installation is an important part of the preparations for series production. Johannes Peschel continues: “In some countries, including the Netherlands, the manufacturer of a power generation system must demonstrate that its concept has the lowest carbon footprint compared to other solutions. It is clear that we meet this requirement compared to a conventional wind turbine, a photovoltaic system or diesel generators. However, we want to go on to establish this specifically.”
To perform this task, Kitepower has obtained a license for Ecospeed AG’s software, which can be used to calculate the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF). Johannes Peschel explains: “We are convinced by the user-friendliness and the possibilities of the software, both nationally and internationally. We will measure the PCF for both a kite plant and a plant with a battery buffer. In addition, we will use the software to further optimize the plants and minimize the carbon footprint.” Another advantage that the founders of Kitepower see in the software is the possibility of connectivity. For example, data can be exported into documentation and shared with planners, operators and certification bodies.