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Directory:High Altitude Wind Power

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Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) is one of the leading high-altitude designs.
Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) is one of the leading high-altitude designs.

Airborne Wind Solutions

The energy in winds miles above us is sufficient to provide all the world's energy needs.

Sky WindPower Corporation asserts that, after full development of the technology, this energy can be captured with Flying Electric Generators at two cents per kilowatt hour or less. This is less than the cost of producing electricity using fossil fuels or nuclear fission, if all costs are taken into account. FEGs are tethered rotorcraft.

The Laddermill is another method of capturing high altitude wind energy consisting of ascending and descending kites. This method is being considered at Delft University in the Netherlands.

The most common other approach suggested is to use blimps to support or house wind turbines.




  • Results from High-Altitude Wind Study Promising - In the future, will wind power tapped by high-flying kites light up New York? A new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution and California State University identifies New York as a prime location for exploiting high-altitude winds, which globally contain enough energy to meet world demand 100 times over. (Wired; June 15, 2009)
  • Harnessing High Winds With Giant Kites - On overview of various companies and groups seeking to develop viable, reliable methods of harnessing energy from high altitude winds, which carry hundreds of times more energy and are more constant than those near the ground. A look at Delft University of Technology's Laddermill; Google-supported Makani; University of Sussex; and Kitegen of Italy. (Alternative Energy News; May 20, 2009)
  • Scientists look high in the sky for power - By lofting generators into the upper atmosphere, scientists theorize they could capture the power of the jet stream and transmit the electricity along cables back to Earth. Dozens of researchers around the world believe huge kite-like wind-power generators could be the solution, potentially meeting the world's entire electrical needs. (San Fransico Chronicle; May 7, 2007)
  • Harvesting Energy in the Sky - Article addresses airborne -- up to 10km in the sky -- wind farms intended to harvest the immense supply of energy in the jet stream. San Diego-based Sky WindPower believes they can not only make this work, but do so profitably. Several other ideas discussed for high-flying wind farming including a Dutch proposal to use pairs of kites to drive a generator. (The Economist; Apr. 3, 2007) (See Slashdot discussion)


  • The Kite Wind Generator - An Italian company is installing Kite Wind Generators, or KiteGens that are mounted on giant movable poles. When wind blows these kites come out of funnels on a pair of high-resistance cables to control direction and angle. As the kites blow left then right, they pole movement generates electricity. (Alt Energy News; Dec. 21, 2009)
  • Makani Aims to Harvest High Altitude Wind - "Makani Power is seeking to harness high-altitude wind energy to produce energy at an unsubsidized real cost significantly below that of the least expensive coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power." Google has invested $10 million in Makani. (PESWiki; Jan. 29, 2008)
  • Ladder Mill consists of a series of wings or kites all connected to a cable that forms a huge loop. Like the wings of an aeroplane will the wind cause an upward lift force to the wings. Prototype successfully tested Aug. 2007.
  • Magenn index page - Inflatable, rotating balloon, wind turbine design had expected to be read for market readiness in 2006 (haven't made it yet); at a price close to grid power.
  • Briza Technologies - The Hovering Wind Turbine can be placed to capture the high velocity high altitude winds. It eliminates the need of expensive towers, to produce energy that is cheaper than fossil fuels, non-polluting, renewable, and without global warming.
  • Sky WindPower Flying Electric Generator(FEG) should be able to produce electricity at a life cycle cost of less than two cents per kilowatt hour using tether materials now available. Long range this will be the world's cheapest energy source other than the limited hydro sources.
  • Sequoia Automation - The Kite Wind Generator, or KiteGen, consists of several kites tethered to a central rotor that is turned as the kites are dragged along by the wind. A radar-guided system of winches controls the direction and angle of the kites, the same as the ones used by kitesurfers, at altitudes up to 1,000 meters. Estimated cost is 1.5 euros per MegaWatt Hour ($0.002 US per kWh).
  • KiteShip - Very Large Free Flying Sails (VLFFS) for boats and ships provide up to 10,000 horsepower of controlled, inexpensive power from wind energy, to reduce ship owners' fuel costs by up to 25 percent, and vastly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants.

Sky Sail

  • Featured: Wind > High Altitude >
    Airplane almost hits ship kite - Now that more and more ships are using skysail kites which sometimes fly as high as 300 meters (~1000 feet) to help tow them along to conserve on fuel, a dangerous situation is posed to airplanes by both the kites and the tether. (Examiner/PESN; Sept. 18, 2009)
  • Football Field-Sized Kite Powers Latest Freighter - A new freighter set to launch in December will be receiving a hefty dose of power from a kite the size of a football field. The 460-foot ship, owned by the Beluga shipping company, hopes to see as much as a 50% drop in fuel consumption during optimal conditions. (Network World; Nov. 25) (See Slashdot discussion)
  • SkySails - Wind propulsion system based on large towing kites reduces a ship‘s fuel costs by 10 - 35%. Now in final development testing, in 2007 pilot systems will propel large cargo ships for the first system purchaser from Germany, and series production will begin in 2008.
  • Renewables Cheaper than Coal - Google announced a new initiative, known as RE<C, to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. To start with, a wind and a solar firm have been identified as Google's early bets: eSolar (solar thermal power) and Makani Power (high-altitude wind). (EcoGeek; Nov. 27, 2007)

Research and Development

  • Wind > High Altitude Wind Power >
    Twind High-Altitude Wind Technology - TWIND technology intends to propose an innovative method in order to exploit the Eolic energy with low costs, higher continuity and a minor environmental impact. (Comment: Their site talks about the power:windspeed ratio as a squared function. It is actually a cubed function.)
  • Ampyx PowerPlane pulls 10 kW from High-Altitude Wind - Ampyx is developing the PowerPlane, a machine that can extract energy from high-altitude wind much more economically than wind turbines. Ampyx has built a 10 kW PowerPlane which has been tested successfully. They're now looking for an investment for full automation and scale up.

In the News

  • Magenn Wind Power; Turbine In The Sky - Called the MARS (Magenn Air Rotor System), Magenn's system utilizes an inflatible rotor that floats high above the air without requiring a tower, just a tether. The horizontally-rotating turbine uses large scoops that rotate around an axis, with generators on either end that send power back to earth via a tether. (Gas2; August 18, 2009)


  • Featured: Wind > High Altitude >
    Airplane almost hits ship kite - Now that more and more ships are using skysail kites which sometimes fly as high as 300 meters (~1000 feet) to help tow them along to conserve on fuel, a dangerous situation is posed to airplanes by both the kites and the tether. (Examiner/PESN; Sept. 18, 2009)


See Discussion page

See also




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