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Drones and kites join green movement

Pioneering new techniques are being developed to capture wind power at higher altitudes.

In April this year we ran a story about a Dutch company, which is partnering with E.ON, to use a ‘drone, a winch, a generator and a cable’ to harness more reliable high-altitude winds.

Now a team from King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) is looking at opportunities in the Middle East to fly a wind turbine on a tethered kite, with the electricity being transferred via the tether. And by making it adjustable the system could be tweaked and moved into positions which allow it to take advantage of stronger winds.

“Optimal altitudes for the turbines vary by region and with time of year and time of day,” said KAUST PhD student, Andrew Yip, first author of the research paper. “In general, the abundance of the airborne wind-energy resources increases with altitude.”

The KAUST team found that, in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Oman are best suited to capturing energy in this way.

“Our work may help Saudi Arabian wind-energy technology to leapfrog into the future and fulfill the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan on the development of renewable energy resources,” added Georgiy Stenchikov, who led the KAUST research.


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