I picture it as a long oval track. The kite tacks back and forth to maintain the proper thrust vector. It's the ends of the oval that make the problem interesting. Maybe, if the oval were narrow but long, as the generator car enters the curve the kite begins to tack, pulling it into the curve. generator car momentum would finish the direction reversal.
Eight kites, flying in formation, tacking back and forth, that would be an interesting sight to see.
They tested it first on a straight track but further testing will be done on a looped track to see how that works out. Eventually control of the kites will be automated by a computer. I'm sure the kites themselves in the air are a sight to see! Seems like a rather beautiful way to generate energy.
Very interesting and definately a more aesthetically pleasing energy source! I wonder what their flight ceiling would be and if its regulated...as a model rocket hobbyist, I have been told of the heightened security after 9-11 to include a more restricted flight ceilings. Since this technology is airborne - I wonder if it has to coordinate with the FAA?
Excellent point, Nancy. Since this is just being tested in Germany right now, it remains to be seen if this method comes stateside. I imagine there would be some concerns with air traaffic as well, depending on locations and how high the system can be built.
It might be very similiar to model rocketry protocol - waivers sometimes have to be filed and approved with the FAA and flight patterns have to meet certain criteria. That would probably be a good way to deal with air traffic. We wouldn't want a model rocket crashing through one of those kites!
Liz, thanks for covering this--what fun, how elegant, and I like the lower environmental impact of the technology. While most wind turbines don't go as high, the one we wrote about here http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=243636 is designed to eventually achieve over 1,000 feet in altitude.
I wonder if they've thought about potential aircraft collisions. In Illinois, where I live, it's very easy to spot wind turbines at night because wind farms typically have synchronized red lights that blink on and off at night. Could they do the same with kites?
I didn't want to say anything from an aviation standpoint, because that's something I'm a little biased on. Since the door's been opened, I think it's outrageously dangerous to have a kite above 1000' AGL. Yes, there are antennas that reach that high with nice, bright beacons, and one can assume that the kite would be as well lit, but the problem with a kite is that you have no way of knowing where the aluminum shredding tether is going to be. There was a story similar to this before, and I likened the tethered, airborne windmill to a WWII era barrage balloon, and certainly, the effect to a passing aircraft would be similar.
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