Researchers in Italy have high hopes for a new wind-power generator that resembles a backyard drying rack on steroids. Despite its appearance, the Kite Wind Generator, or KiteGen for short, could produce as much energy as a nuclear power plant.via Wired
Here's how it works: When wind hits the KiteGen, kites spring from funnels at the ends of poles. For each kite, winches release a pair of high-resistance cables to control direction and angle. The kites are not your Saturday-afternoon park variety but similar to those used for kite surfing -- light and ultra-resistant, capable of reaching an altitude of 2,000 meters.
KiteGen's core is set in motion by the twirl of the kites; the rotation activates large alternators producing current. A control system on autopilot optimizes the flight pattern to maximize the juice produced as it sails on night and day. A radar system can redirect kites within seconds in case of any interference: oncoming helicopters, for example. Or small planes or even single birds.
Research by Sequoia Automation, the small company near Turin heading the project, estimates that KiteGen could churn out one gigawatt of power at a cost of just 1.5 euros per megawatt hour. That's nearly 30 times less than the average cost in Europe of 43 euros per megawatt hour.