A British engineering consortium led by Kite Power Solutions Ltd (KPS) has secured a £1.0million grant from the UK Government’s Innovate UK Energy Catalyst to accelerate the development of its kite power generation technology.
KPS’s kite technology has the potential to transform the offshore wind generation market as it is cheaper to manufacture and easier to deploy and maintain than conventional wind turbines. The price is so low that kite power generation would not need government subsidies and, if successful, would be deployed in UK waters as well as waters deeper than 40m found offshore of countries such as Portugal, Japan and USA.
The £1.0m Innovate UK grant will be used to scale-up KPS’s technology to a 500kW kite turbine and validate the commercial viability of 3MW floating offshore arrays. KPS is aiming to deploy its first 3MW power system onshore in 2019 and offshore by 2021.
KPS is targeting the offshore wind power generation market as its technology can reduce the capex of conventional offshore turbines by as much as 50% because its patented power system doesn’t require large quantities of steel or specialist installation vessels. Offshore wind installations are currently achieving a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) around £140/MWh and are projected to fall to £78/MWh by 2020. KPS expects to reduce that cost to about £50/MWh by 2020.
The KPS-led consortium comprises six partners, based in England and Scotland:
o BVG Associates (Swindon and Aberdour): design optimisation of the KPS system and cost of energy validation
o Artemis Intelligent Power (Loanhead, Edinburgh): drive train development
o Imperial College (London): aerodynamic development of the KPS wings including wind tunnel testing as part of the National Wind Tunnel Facility (www.nwtf.ac.uk)
o The National Composites Centre (Bristol): optimising kite material and manufacturing processes
o Keynvor Morlift Ltd (Appledore, Devon): mooring and installation assessments
o Banks Sails (Southampton): kite manufacturing.
The two-year project will also include engagement with the wider public and environmental interests to assess the impacts of the rollout and operation of the kite power technology.
David Ainsworth, KPS Business Development Director said: “The calibre of the consortium members and the grant support being given by Innovate UK underlines the massive market opportunity that exists for kite power worldwide. Over the past three years, KPS has successfully demonstrated the potential for kite power generation, and with our business partners we now have the opportunity to accelerate the technology’s commercial development so we can deploy low cost deep-water, offshore wind energy on a global scale.”
In June 2015, Bill Gates described kite power as a “magic solution”. While there are other systems under development around the world, the patented KPS system is unique and KPS is the only British company active in the kite power market. The KPS power system has two kites that are flown on a man-made fibre tether between 500m and 750m in length; the tether is attached to a winch system that generates electricity as it spools out. By achieving flight speeds of up to 100mph (45m/s) in 20mph (9m/s) winds, the kite’s tether tension causes the line to rapidly spool out from a drum, which turns a generator producing electricity.
For further information (and images):
Kite Power Solutions (www.kitepowersolutions.com / Twitter @kitepowerltd )
David Ainsworth – +44 (0)7966 937146 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Taylor, Taylor Keogh Communications – +44 (0)20 3170 8466 / email@example.com
KPS Consortium Members
Kite Power Solutions (www.kitepowersolutions.com)
Kite Power Solutions Ltd, based in Burnham-in-Crouch (Essex), was founded in 2011 by Bill Hampton and John Hardy. To date, the company has invested over £3m in technology development, with financial support from DECC, Shell’s Gamechanger and Pathfinder programmes and private investors. KPS has a 40 kW twin kite development system operating in Essex.
Artemis Intelligent Power (www.artemisip.com)
Artemis Intelligent Power develops and licenses technology associated with Digital Displacement® hydraulics. Digital Displacement takes hydraulics into a new era of efficiency and controllability, opening up new avenues for the hydraulic industry. Artemis is wholly owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan (MHI), and works closely with leading global companies to develop Digital Displacement for a wide range of applications.
Bruce Banks Sails ( www.banks.co.uk)
Banks Sails was founded in 1962 by Bruce Banks an engineer who had represented Britain sailing in the Melbourne and Helsinki Olympics. Two major factors helped the company to immediate success in producing race winning sails. Firstly, polyester sailcloth was just becoming commercially available. Secondly the company embarked on using mathematical formulas to create the sail shape which had never been done before in the industry. Success in winning races enabled the company to grow quickly and develop new concepts in sail shapes especially in the downwind spinnakers. Banks designed and developed their own cloth creating a very robust high quality product that was extremely fast. Banks built all the sails for British Americas Cup Challenge yacht ‘Sovereign’ for the challenge in Newport, Rhode Island. Banks’ continual development has now taken them into the development of full membrane type sails.
BVG Associates (www.bvgassociates.co.uk)
BVG Associates (BVGA) is an independent consultancy, specialising in wind and marine energy generation systems. Its client base spans Government, enabling bodies, turbine manufacturers, developers and investors and the entire supply chain. It has an unmatched track-record in analysing levelised cost of energy (LCOE), having delivered studies for offshore wind LCOE for The Crown Estate, DECC, KIC InnoEnergy and numerous technology developers. BVGA has deep experience of supporting developers of new offshore wind technology forge routes to market. It is experienced in developing and delivering a range of incubation activities and has helped companies enter the market at a tier-4 level, all the way to major tier-1 component supply.
Imperial College and National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF) (www.imperial.ac.uk and www.nwtf.ac.uk )
Imperial College London is a UK research university, consistently rated among the top universities in the world, ranking 8th in the 2015 QS World University Rankings and 9th in the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The Imperial College 10’ x 5’ wind tunnel will be used for aerodynamic testing; it is part of the National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF). NWTF is an initiative funded by EPSRC and ATI, in which seventeen wind tunnels distributed across seven UK universities are made open access (for up to 25% of time) to external users, both university and industry-based.
Keynvor Morlift Ltd (www.keynvormorlift.co.uk)
Keynvor MorLift Ltd are UK-based marine contractors. They are specialists in shoreline, coastal and offshore marine services and operations, with a wealth of experience ranging from marine renewable energy construction projects to project cargo, marine civil engineering, salvage operations and many more offshore and specialist marine services.
National Composites Centre (www.nccuk.com)
The NCC Vision is ‘Powering Composites Opportunities’. Our industrial-scale research and technology development facilities support the needs of all sectors wishing to capitalise on the high-strength, low weight, fatigue and corrosion-resistant qualities of composites. Working with the NCC offers the opportunity for companies to develop, scale-up and validate new and existing composites processes and technologies.
Its specialist composites engineers, designers and technicians work with industry partners and leading academics to support development of composite products – accelerating development from laboratory into products. The NCC mission is ‘To accelerate the growth of UK industrial output by enabling design and manufacturing enterprises to deliver winning solutions in the application of composites’.
Innovate UK (www.innovateuk.gov.uk)
InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.