Posts tagged: High Altitude Wind Energy

KiteGen and Alcoa Updates

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By stekgr, September 21, 2012 3:53 pm

Kite Gen Research has become the third group to express interest regarding the aluminum smelter located in Sardinia run until today by Alcoa.
In Italy we often hear on the news the name of this company, which sadly is associated with the risks of closure and the consequent social demonstrations of its workers.
The area where Alcoa operates is one of the poorest in Italy, where unemployment rate is one of the highest, while the root cause of the problems behind its past and its future are strictly connected with energy prices. The combination of these factors, together with the recent academic studies published by Nature Climate Change (Geophysical Limits to Global Wind Power) inspired KiteGen in proposing an alternative solution to this situation.
On September 10th KiteGen sent an offer to the Italian government and the relative parties involved (Sardinian Regional Government, Alcoa, Minister of Development, Etc): KiteGen proposed the implementation of its “Industrial Program 50 Machines” (currently also under negotiations with other parties) for the production of energy of the Alcoa’s smelter from what it will be the world’s first large scale tropospheric wind farm.

KiteGen received official interest from Alcoa and from the president of the Sardinian Region, Ugo Cappellacci.
On Monday the 17th a delegation from KiteGen headed by its president Massimo Ippolito was hosted by the president of the Region in Cagliari to discuss the contents of the proposal.

KiteGen would like to point out that the meeting has been positive, the Regional authorities present in the meeting together with the academic presence of Dott. Damiano from the Cagliari University, were competent, prepared and opened to the views shared by KiteGen.
The two steps outlined in the documents posted on the 10th of September were discussed and there seemed to be concrete interest from the Sardinian authorities.

KiteGen offers its expertise and its innovation for implementing a short-medium term solution to the Energy issue that Alcoa most of all, but all industries in general have to face sooner or later. KiteGen solution is different from the temporary energy price agreement that might keep the smelter open in the short term. KiteGen wants to provide clean, cheap and abundant renewable energy, the only remedy that could solve this and other difficult situation in Italy, Europe and Globally.
The cost of energy is one of the main reasons why the Sardinian plant has found it difficult to compete and could be sold or closed. A relatively big Kitegen Stem wind farm at regime (200 Stems= 600 MW) could provide continuous power to the smelter at 20 €/MWh, a price lower than the one required by Alcoa to be competitive, 25 €/MWh; lower than the one that Alcoa benefitted from bilateral agreements in the last 15 years of production, roughly 33 €/MWh; and ¼ of the average market value of electricity of 80€/MWh.

Furthermore, if KiteGen will be included in the Alcoa “solution” the smelter might benefit from energy generation through renewable source: this would also contribute in cutting CO2 emissions for the plant and therefore reducing or even save up and trade the allowance assigned by the ETS to the smelter (Emission Trade Scheme) which comes in force from next year.

We hope that the authorities, both Regional and National will soon understand the potential of this source (KiteGen is merely a technology for extraction, the High Altitude Winds are the massive “Oil Fields” above our heads), also because KiteGen would be happier to develop first its technology on the Italian territory and in a social context of real need and only after this important Italian test bench start the commercial and industrial proliferation in other areas.

One of the strengths of the KiteGen proposal is that politicians are now searching for a quick solution, based on energy price subsides needed to keep the smelter on.  Those subsidies, even if allowed by EU, could be granted only for a short time, or in any case they do not represent a long term solution, rather it is just a way to gain time and mitigate the problem until a solution “falls from the sky”.  Whoever the new owners of the plant may be,  they will find it hard to compete without new subsidies, and in a climate of recession the chance for new allowances would be harder.  The KiteGen solution (which literally comes from the sky), could be rapidly deployed during the short term EU allowance that Italian Government is likely to obtain and it will gradually eliminates the need for new energy price agreements, helping securing the future of the Portovesme plant and hundreds of related jobs.

Kite Gen asks the government to apply for EU funds of 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) available for innovative projects, to demonstrate the feasibility of the KiteGen Stem technology at the scale required for the Sardinian plant, and hopes the authorities will not lack such a strategic view of the problem, considering also that there are already so many investments in other directions less promising than the one proposed by KiteGen.

In our view the risks are outplayed by the great opportunities of a competitive and fully sustainable technology that only scratches the greatest source of kinetic energy that our planet has. Is it also your view?


High Altitude Wind Energy from David North’s (NASA) point of view

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By stekgr, July 18, 2012 12:54 pm

Image credit The system developed at Langley flies a kite in a figure-8 pattern to power a generator on the ground

Originally written by Andrea Papini and Eugenio Saraceno

As our readers already know, one of the most titled teams that recently joined the at high altitude wind energy sector is that of NASA, which at the Langley Research Center in Virginia is developing its own project. According to David North, engineer of the team, in an article reported by

“most tower turbines are about 80 to 100 meters (roughly 300 feet) high, which is pathetically down in the boundary layer of Earth. The boundary layer is where friction from Earth’s surface keeps the wind relatively slow and turbulent. The sweet spot for wind energy starts around 2000 feet up (600m). To use wind at that altitude to generate electricity, you’d have to build a turbine tower taller than the Empire State Building. Or you can fly a kite.”

Read more at: ”
Or the older article about the early stage of the NASA research

The Langley Research Center is the only one, so far, who has also left also the sensors on ground. This choice derives from extreme simplification of the flight control, possible due to awareness of not having to create a commercial product yet. In essence the kite is “observed” by a special camera which communicates to a control system based on a shape recognition technology, similar to those adopted by some recent video games with which they can interact by means of the movements of the body (eg MS Kinetics).

We can say that lately, as well as KiteGen, other groups have reported being able to run the automatic control of the kite:

SkySails Marine


NASA Langley (in March).

TuDelft (In June)

( plus at least 5 other groups who are still working on that)

However, only KiteGen and SkySails are now able to perform take-off and landing automatically.

We are pleased to note that some of the concepts on which KiteGen is been insisting for years, are now being repeated by NASA:

- Flying the kite only reduces the weight (and therefore the cost) of the generator;

- Flying only the tip of the existing wind turbines, which are the parts of the blades that produce 90% of the total energy.

- The power depends on the cube of speed, and therefore it is better to have more efficient kites/wings (contrary to what is being developed by SkySails so far).

Related post ( March 2012)

The Success of the recent Open Day (Sunday 13th of May)

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By stekgr, May 22, 2012 11:21 am

Last Sunday (13th of May) KiteGen hosted an Open Day for followers, and actual or future investors.

The event had 2 primary goals:

1) Show the state of the art of the technology, and perform a quick demonstration.

2) Launch officially the new financial initiative that collects small and medium investors that want to help the KiteGen’s development; SOTER srl

Those who attended the Open Day had the pleasure to see the KiteGen Stem in operation after a detailed presentation about Energy issues in general a quick history of the KiteGen “evolution” until present day.

The importance of the Open Day lies in the possibility of showing live feeds of the state of the art, that at this stage is dedicated to flight-tests, single components tests, single modules tests, etc.. The weather condition of the the day have also helped appreciating the high level of automation that has been achieved so far, in particular reference to the Stem movements. In fact, in the following video you can appreciate a “semi-automatic” take off procedure.

Click For Video Link

Click for Video Link

All the movements of the Stem and (those of the Manipulator) that you have seen in the video were completely automatic. What was manual was the control of the drums ( as the on-board electronics were not mounted). The movement of the Stem are based on the forces acquired by the sensors mounted on it, which reacts and follow in real time the forces transmitted by the wing. During the next trials the wing will be equipped with the on-board electronics (which contains numerous particular sensors) which measure the position and velocity and transmit it to the computer that will control the trajectory, and the consequent actions of the ropes according to the main targets of safety procedures, yo-yo cycle and optimization of energy production.

There is still work to do to make fully automatic flight, but the excellent work done so far on the software to manage the stem movements realized by Massimo Ippolito, Paolo Marchetti and Angelo Conte allows us to be confident on the future successes.

As you can guess the next step will be to accomplish these tasks and increase the power extracted from the wind in order to maximise the performances of the kite.

The Open Day was also dedicated to presenting the activities of Soter srl, company that holds an important share of KiteGen Research and that is exclusively dedicated to support the KiteGen project. KiteGen Research (through SOTER) is in fact now open to new investors that believe like we do, that KiteGen will be a winning technology for the exploitation of the high altitude winds, the new energy sector that will be key to the necessary transition towards a renewable source of energy in economical competition with fossil fuels sources.

Other Open Days will be organized very soon (24th of June)
Contact us for more information.


You can download the video from here

The Attendants of the Open Day together with the KiteGen Team

The Manipulator

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By stekgr, May 7, 2012 10:30 am

Click For Video Link

Here a short explanation of one of the key components of the KiteGen Stem: The Manipulator

The “manipulator”, so nicknamed because its movements resemble the movement of a human wrist that controls the orientation and position of the kite from the top of the STEM. The distance between the two long antennas vary depending on the needs of the control software and its main function is to assist the take-off and landing manoeuvres.

In standby position, (with the kite hanging from the stem like a hammock) without the manipulator the kite tends to twist on itself and therefore blocking the take off manoeuvres, while keeping the antennas open it is easier to keep the kite open and aligned for the take-off. Taking off with the manipulator helps the air to be channelled in the kite and then closes with extreme speed. Once the kite is in the air the two antennas are closed and aligned to the Stem axis and its presence becomes imperceptible.

Each of the antennas is made in Kevlar/carbon and it is sensorised on 2-axis for the pull of the rope that passes through them. The system is capable to feel the forces in play and react in accordance to these inputs, so that in a situation with open antennas where the kite has just been launched, the pull of the ropes transmit a signal to the motors of the manipulator which react and closes automatically.
The two motors at the base of the stem manage the operating levers of the antennas through a long “push-pull” bowden system (similar to the mechanical principle of a bicycle’s brake). During the landing phase the system again spread apart the antennas facilitating the stability of the kite in its descent.

Lastly the sensitivity of the two antennas helps the whole system in terms of force control and positioning, similarly like the last portion of a fishing rod.

The manipulator, now in its fifth version, is a working reality of the concept idealized by M.Ippolito and reproduced in the model presented in various occasions

You can also download the video from here

KiteGen Model realized in 2008

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