High fliers: KPS secure £5m in new investment for kite energy technology

Britain’s sole player in the kite power market has secured £5m of new investment to support technical and commercial development of its high-altitude wind power generation technology.

E.ON, Schlumberger and Shell Technology Ventures (STV) have made the investment into Kite Power Systems (KPS), whose power system has two kites flown to an altitude of up to 450m. A tether is attached to a winch that generates electricity as it spools out; by achieving flight speeds of up to 100mph in 20mph winds, the kite’s tether tension causes the line to rapidly spool out from a drum, which turns a generator to produce electricity.

The company claims its technology can reduce expenditure of conventional offshore turbines by as much as 50 per cent because its patented power system doesn’t require large quantities of steel or specialist installation vessels.

According to KPS, the lower cost means that kite power generation would not need government subsidies and could be deployed in UK and Irish waters - and other areas of the North Sea - and in waters up to and potentially deeper than 40m found offshore of countries including Portugal, Japan and the USA.

This latest investment will support KPS’s plans to deploy a 500kW onshore power system at West Freugh in South West Scotland in 2017, leading to a planned onshore demonstration array of multiple 500kW systems within the next 3-4 years.  Thereafter, KPS will develop a 3MW onshore system at West Freugh and then deploy a similar sized power system offshore.

KPS was established in 2011 and to date has invested more than £3m in technology development, with financial support coming from the UK Government (via DECC’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund and Innovate UK), Shell’s GameChanger programme and 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 Shell’s New Energies business.”

Schlumberger reportedly chose to invest in KPS because the technology has the potential to be deployed in varied locations including offshore oil platforms, remote onshore drilling operations and decommissioned offshore wind turbine towers.