Kite Power Reaching For New Heights
Natural Power has been appointed by Kite Power Solutions (KPS) to support proposals for consenting a test and development site at RAF West Freugh, now operated by QinetiQ, near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Founded in 2011, KPS was established to develop a deep water wind energy technology that can be deployed anywhere in the world. KPS has already designed, built and demonstrated a 40kW proof of concept system, regularly flying at its current base, Bradwell-On-Sea Airfield in Essex.
A 500kW pre-commercial demonstration system has also been designed. Once the company has secured the required GBP 5.5 million investment, the next phase of development will commence, and this includes relocation to the West Freugh site which already has ‘controlled airspace’ status, and will enable testing of the kites at heights up to 500 metres.
By 2021 KPS intends to have its 500kW system available for commercial sale, and will have deployed a floating 3MW system, Natural Power said.
The West Freugh location was selected after extensive consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority. A rolling five year lease for the demonstration test site was signed in February 2016, with first kite system flying on the site expected in April 2017.
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell and the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have supported the GBP 3 million development so far. In February 2016, a KPS led consortium was awarded a GBP 1 million InnovateUK Energy Catalyst grant towards the West Freugh development.
“This is an exciting and innovative technology, which has the potential to bring significant community benefits to the area, including employment and investment, should permission be granted,” Euan Hutchison, Natural Power’s Principal Consultant – Planning and Development Services, said.
“Our ecologists are already on the ground at West Freugh to determine a plan of action for mitigating any risks to local wildlife, and we are keen to engage with local stakeholders to help bring this exciting development to fruition.”
The system harvests offshore winds with two kites tethered to separate moorings. Each kite flies in a figure of eight, drawing out the tether and generating power at the winch. When it has reached its maximum height – likely to be 450 metres – the kite switches to a hover-like mode, where there is little stress on the tether and it can be winched back in ready for the next run, using just a fraction of the power already generated.
Power is delivered continuously because one kite is generating as the other is winched in. Ultimately, the plan is to have scores of kites flying in formation, all automatically controlled using custom-made software. The kites at full-scale will be 40 metres wide with 2-3MW capacity.
David Ainsworth, Business Development Director, at KPS said: “With Natural Power’s extensive experience in the wind energy sector and its demonstrated ability to support other innovative renewable energy technologies, Natural Power was the obvious choice to support us with the West Freugh project. So far we have been overwhelmed by the warm reception we have received for our plans in Dumfries and Galloway. The whole team is looking forward to relocating to this beautiful area of Scotland and developing this world changing technology in this tremendous environment.”