Makani, which is now an independent business within Google parent company Alphabet, is to demonstrate its energy kite from a floating foundation.
In a posting on the Medium website, Makani chief executive Fort Felker said that, after five years of development at X, Makani is now an independent company and is partnering with Shell to bring energy kites to the offshore environment.
“We’re working to advance the global adoption of renewable energy by creating kites that efficiently harness energy from the wind. After more than a decade developing our energy kite technology on land, we are partnering with Shell to bring Makani to the offshore environment,” he said.
Dr Felker noted that Makani’s kites do not need to be supported by large platforms. “Instead, we plan to mount Makani’s kite on a small spar buoy moored with a synthetic line and gravity anchor,” he wrote.
“This is possible because Makani’s kites are 90% lighter than turbines of a similar power rating and the overall system is smaller, replacing tonnes of steel with lightweight electronics and smart software, which reduces overall costs.”
Dr Felker said the company plans to start testing the floating offshore system off the coast of Norway later this year.
Makani has been developing energy kites that use a wing tethered to a ground station. As the kite flies autonomously in loops, rotors on the wing spin as the wind moves through them, generating electricity that is sent down the tether to the grid.
The company claims that the low mass of Makani’s kites will help it to unlock wind energy resources in areas that are not economically viable for existing technology.