It's a bird. It's a plane... it's a high altitude wind kite? The storied, high-flying pastime may be a Jetson-esque power generator. Companies like Google-backed Makani Power and Italian firm Kite Gen are building super-kites capable of harnessing high altitude wind kinetic energy. A kite engineered to float up to 3,000 ft above the earth's surface could have a 1 GW capacity.
A recent conference at Chico State University in Chico, Calif., brought kite enthusiasts together to discuss the future of kite power, including how to avoid entangling jetliners. One idea is to suspend them in no-fly zones like the ones above nuclear plants. An upside to planning is that atmospheric winds blow continuously so developers wouldn't need to consider climate change when predicting wind patterns.
But realistically, kite power comes with its own set of obstacles. Anyone who's ever tried to fly a kite will raise an eyebrow over the prospect of launching a huge, heavy power-collecting kite way up in the sky. Not to mention, maintenance--once it's up, how will it come down?
It's probably too soon to expect financing proposals to come breezing across your desk but who knows--the Makani Power voicemail box is already full.