Go Fly A Kite, Possibly Power A City

Go Fly A Kite, Possibly Power A City

High-altitude wind-turbine kites could soon harness enough energy to power the world many times over.
Friday, January 15, 2010 - 12:00pm


High-altitude wind-turbine kites could soon harness enough energy to power the world many times over.

The Carnegie Institution for Science, together with California State University recently published a study concluding that high-altitude wind-turbine kites might be able to effectively power large cities. In fact, according to the study, the winds that glide through the jet stream hold about 100 times more energy than all the electricity being consumed daily.

Old Ben Franklin certainly was on to something with the whole kite thing, then, don’t you think?

While there seems to be some debate as to whether or not Franklin actually discovered electricity, he certainly was looking in the right place.

Wind blew the kite around. Lightening hit the kite. Franklin establish the relationship between lightning and electricity. That led to the invention of the lightning rod, which led to the invention of the power generator. And the knee bone’s connected to the shin bone, and the shin bone’s connected to the.. wait, what are we singing about?

Uh, well... With scientists now trying to find ways to harness all the electricity the wind has to offer, I think we may have come full circle.

The Carnegie study researchers compiled over 28 years worth of data and concluded that high altitude winds contain enough energy to meet the world’s global energy demand. They also determined that winds over highly-populated centers in Asia and the U.S. may be the best places to harvest the energy.

So Big Apple-ers may soon look into the sky and find more than Macy’s Parade floats.

Researchers are currently busy dreaming up wind-turbine models that fly so high, air-traffic controllers would have to reroute planes around them. The kites would hover high in the atmosphere and allow jet stream currents to flow through their turbines at a rate 10 times faster than winds would flow near the ground.

The high-altitude turbine kites capture wind energy through a system of spinning rotors. The harvested kinetic energy to turned into electricity, then sent back down the wire to a distribution grid.

The kite turbines could provide a reliable and renewable solution to current energy problems, according to the study.

Researchers also suggest that the wind-turbine kites could be economically competitive with current energy production costs over the long term.

I think Old Ben would be proud.

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