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Energy investors back kite power company with £5m

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Funding enables first 500kW demonstrator to be installed in Scotland in 2017

A company developing a high altitude wind power generation device – a kite with a wind turbine – has raised £5 million from leading energy companies to commercialise its technology.

Kite Power Systems’ (KPS) patented power system consists of two kites flown up to 450m high, tethered to a winch system that generates electricity as it spools out. By achieving flight speeds of up to 100mph (45m/s) in 20mph (9m/s) winds, the kite’s tether tension causes the line to rapidly spool out from a drum, which turns a generator producing electricity.

The £5 million investment, made by E.ON, Schlumberger and Shell Technology Ventures (STV), will enable KPS to deploy a 500kW onshore power system at West Freugh, South West Scotland next year. The company plans to build an array of 500kW systems onshore within the next four years, then a 3MW onshore system, before it deploys a similar sized power system offshore.

Airborne wind technologies, also known as “energy kites”, are in development around the world. High profile examples include Makani Power, which was acquired by Google in 2013. Last month details were published via a patent of a tethered “windmill” system proposed by Makani, which would tether to floating data centres and produce power to run and refrigerate the computers on board.

According to KPS, power generation using kites would not need government subsidies and could be deployed in waters up to 40m deep around the UK, Ireland, and elsewhere in the world.

The power kites could also be deployed in locations including offshore oil platforms, remote onshore drilling operations and decommissioned offshore wind turbine towers.

Paul Jones, chief financial officer of KPS said: “The new investment from three major international businesses is an endorsement of the R&D work that the KPS team has carried out and demonstrates support for our technology and our business.”

KPS was launched in 2011 and has so far received more than £3 million of financial support from the UK Government, Shell’s Gamechanger programme and other private investors.

Geert van de Wouw, managing director of STV, said: “Over time, KPS has convinced me that its high altitude kite power solution has disruptive potential for the wind industry. It is an interesting contribution to renewable energy generation and a good fit to explore through our New Energies business.”

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