Renewable firm plans kite power station

The kites tether turns a turbine as it flies, generating electricity. Two kites will work in tandem. Picture: Kite Power Solutions

The kites tether turns a turbine as it flies, generating electricity. Two kites will work in tandem. Picture: Kite Power Solutions

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A renewable energy firm plans to create one of the world’s first kite power stations in Scotland. Kite Power Solutions said the new power station at the Ministry of Defence’s West Freugh range in Stranraer, will be in operation by March 2017.

The firm claims kite power will halve the cost of offshore wind energy, dispensing with the need for government ­subsidies.

The station produces power via a pair of kites up to 70 metre square attached to two spool drums connected to electricity turbines. As one kite rises up to a height of 750m, it pulls a tether and then flies in a figure of eight pattern, turning the turbine. The kites work in tandem so while one falls, the other rises, generating electricity.

A full-sized kite will be 40m wide and able to generate two to three megawatts of electricity, comparable to a 100mW conventional wind turbine.

Planning permission has been granted for the 500 kilowatt demonstration system at West Freugh and the company believes it will be a stepping stone in developing commercial systems.

David Ainsworth, the firm’s business development director, said: “This is the third evolution of our technology and the next step after the 500kW will be to develop a 3mW system at West Freugh, planned for 2019.

“We believe we will be able to halve the cost of offshore wind. We can install offshore wind installations at a lower price and can produce offshore wind without the need for subsidies.”

He said the installed and onstream cost for kite power stations is around 4p per kilowatt hour, 9p for traditional offshore wind turbines.

The firm has already tested the technology via a smaller project in Essex. It plans to move its headquarters to Glasgow and double in size in preparation for the West Freugh scheme.

The new project will be the first of its scale in the UK and the second in the world after a project in Italy.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “When it comes to renewables, Scotland’s ambitions clearly know no bounds.

“Kite power technology offers the prospect of an exciting new way to harness the power of the wind, in places where it might be impractical to erect a wind turbine.

“Alongside energy reduction schemes and other renewables, this technology could contribute to helping us to end our addiction to climate-changing fossil fuels.”

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