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Google Flies a Kite

Wind power is a plentiful resource that’s been used long enough for Don Quixote to joust at windmills. Every energy source has some drawbacks, and in the case of wind power, when the wind isn’t blowing, there isn’t any power. One way to get around this issue is by launching turbines high into the sky where the winds are more consistent.

Google X, the minds behind Google Glass and the company’s self-driving cars, has acquired Makani Power, a company specializing in wind turbine technology. Makani doesn’t actually fly kites to gather wind power, but the notion behind the technology isn’t dissimilar to how kites harness the wind to stay aloft.

Makani Power's airborne wind turbine gathers energy from higher altitudes that most turbines are capable of reaching. Courtesy of Makani Power.

The Makani turbine actually looks more like a miniature plane than a kite. According to the website:

The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine is a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is stronger and more consistent. It eliminates 90% of the material used in conventional wind turbines, and can access winds both at higher altitudes and above deep waters offshore — resources that are currently untapped. Our goal is the utility-scale deployment of airborne turbines in offshore wind farms.

This particular alternative energy source represents Google’s continued investment in clean energy. Any company the size of Google eats up enormous amounts of energy, and the company is interested in finding ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

Below you’ll find a video about Makani Power (forward to about 1:20).

Sources: Makani Power, CNET

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