the future of wind energy is already being tested in Mauritius

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If you walk along the beaches of Mauritius — lucky you — you may come across a huge kite, an XXL-sized sail very similar to the ones used by paragliders, only much larger and with a strange movement in the sky, in eight shape. Do not look for an athlete under or tied to the other end of the ropes. There isn’t. What you will see at the end of his line is a winch, a generator, and a ship similar to a truck trailer. The deployment is part of the airborne wind power that the German company SkySails Power deployed to the Indian Ocean island at the end of 2021. Its objective: generate electrical energy.

The device It uses a motorized kite the size of an apartment – ​​its area ranges from 90 to 180 square meters, depending on the terrain – and a tether 800 meters long to produce power. The fabric is thrown and picked up with the help of a pole and, once unfolded, it moves with the force of the air. Thanks to an automated system, it traces a pattern in the form of eights at a height of between 200 and 400 meters. The pulling force that develops during the process in turn activates a generator that produces electricity.

Autonomous and high altitude

“The energy generated by the Airbone Wind Energy System can be fed into the network, stored in batteries or consumed directly,” explains the German firm, which ensures that its SKS PN-14 system, for example, offers an average cycle power of between 80 and 200 Kw. According to the results handled by the BBCin Mauritius, where the first commercial and 100 percent autonomous system of this type has been launched, just under 100 kilowatts. The value is still below the goal that the company has set, but it is already helping the island republic achieve your goal that 40% of its electricity comes from renewable energies in 2030.

The one in Mauritius is the first SkySails Power kite that has been launched commercially and with total autonomy, but its directors ensure that have already manufactured and sold half a dozen devices. The German firm is not in any case the first to embark on the development of airborne wind energy. years ago Makani Technologies, backed by Google, has already advanced in this field; but the multinational stopped supporting the project in 2020 as its future was not clear. “The road to commercialization is longer and riskier than expected,” she noted.

Kite

Other companies pointing in a similar direction are the Dutch Kitepower, Norway’s Kitemill, which also uses a device attached to a strap; or the French Airseas, whose system includes a deployable kite of about 500 square meters to propel boats with the help of the wind. According to his own calculations, his system, which he will test on a Ro-Ro ship chartered by Airbus, will allow ships to cut their fuel use and emissions by 20%. The truth is that in recent years several companies have explored alternatives, flexible, like kites, or rigid, similar to ships with turbines. In 2019 it was even founded Airborne Wind Europe.

The million dollar question is: Why use XXL kites when we have windmills? The answer, they explain from SkySails, lies in the limitations of traditional parks. “Conventional wind technology cannot exploit this resource where it is most powerful: at high altitudes. We now offer an airborne system that revolutionizes the way wind is harnessed and converted into electricity. We believe it is the key that will unlock 100% of renewable energies 24 hours a day”, highlights the companybased in Hamburg.

A kite for large ships: this is how this company plans to save 20% on fuel and emissions on its trips

The 400 meters of height that SKS PN-14 can take advantage of, for example, considerably exceeds the tallest turbines. In his record, he points out that his grip even reaches 800. When reaching higher altitudes is at stake, where the wind blows more strongly, it is not a minor issue. Devices like the one now starting up in Mauritius also have some added advantages: moving a kite to a remote region or the ocean not overly expensive or complex, can be anchored to barges and its extension regulated and, above all, save hectares compared to normal mill stations. That they require less land is not a minor issue given that it is a limited resource and renewables are called to gain weight in the future.

Comet4

Not all are advantages, of course. Makani’s experience shows that finding a commercial outlet is still a challenge and the use of the devices is also very marked by the weather. Other fields in which progress should be made is that of the regulation itself or the study of how these devices, with wings and long tethers, can affect birds.

If you walk along the beaches of Mauritius — lucky you — you may come across a huge kite, an…

If you walk along the beaches of Mauritius — lucky you — you may come across a huge kite, an…

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