To make the most of wind power, go fly a kite

时间:2019-03-02 01:02:01166网络整理admin

By Michael Brooks “THERE are territories traversed by this invisible power rarely explored, where sail was never unfurled, where mechanism was never introduced, and where invention never spread a successful pinion. These are the higher regions of the atmosphere where, when the winds sleep below, there are powerful and steady currents of air rapidly floating. These have hitherto passed almost unnoticed by the dwellers upon earth, because their lofty career placed them far above human subjection.” Not any more. When the English inventor George Pocock wrote those words in an 1827 treatise called The Aeropleustic Art, the idea of drawing power from the unfailing winds of the troposphere was a dream. Now, thanks to technological innovations, it is emerging as a multimillion-dollar business replete with industrial secrets and fierce rivalries. Despite that, there’s little in this nascent industry that Pocock would not recognise. The only thing that has changed is the availability of sophisticated materials and computer-control technologies. “The ideas are quite old,” says Saul Griffith, CEO of Makani Power, based in Alameda, California, whose aim is to produce cheap power from high-altitude wind. “The history of kite power is so rich, there are no substantively new concepts out there.” That’s right: kite power. While green campaigners push for ever more wind turbines, a new wave of environmentally motivated engineers is already considering turbines to be a little old-school. One of the pioneers of the concept of a kite as a renewable energy source is Peter Lynn, a New Zealand kite designer. Lynn grew up with kites: his father, also called Peter,