German company powering turbines with kites eyes expansion
After a two-year trial period in the town of Klixbüll in northern Germany, renewables company SkySails Power is looking to build more of its turbines powered by large kites elsewhere, managing director Stephan Wrage told the tv station NDR. The plant consists of a red-and-white striped kite that is automatically controlled and attached to a winch, whose cable can be rolled out to different lengths of up to 800 metres. The winch rotates and operates a generator, which generates electricity. “We harvest the wind several hundred metres up in the air where the wind is strong and regular,” Wrage explained.
With a capacity of 200 kilowatts – conventional onshore wind turbines now have an average capacity of 3 megawatts – the kite turbine is much smaller, but according to Wrage also much less invasive and cheaper to construct. While less of a problem for people and birds, the kite does need a special permission because it flies so high that it could obstruct air traffic. Schleswig-Holstein’s state energy transition minister Jan Philipp Albrecht said he would help speed up the permission procedures so that the new technology could show its potential and areas of application.
Germany is looking to expand its share of renewables in power consumption to 65 percent by 2030. So far, wind, solar, biomass and hydropower cover around 45-50 percent of electricity use. But the expansion of onshore wind power in particular has slowed down due to local protests and drawn out planning procedures.