Power-generating kites backed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Schlumberger Ltd. and EON SE will start tests in the U.K. this summer, with the aim of developing a technology that could eventually replace offshore wind turbines.
Kite Power Systems, known as #KPS, is working on a 17-meter device that flies on air currents high above the ground and generates power by pulling at a cable. It raised 5 million pounds ($6.4 million) from the three energy giants last December.
“The reason we are interested in something like this is that it has potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind in the future,” said Geert van de Wouw, managing director of Shell Technology Ventures BV. “Fundamentally, looking at the science, flying the kite at high altitudes so there’s lots of wind, and the cost of materials is quite a lot lower than a normal offshore wind turbine.”
Alternatives to traditional wind turbines are in the works at multiple start-ups, some backed by corporations in energy and tech such as Alphabet Inc. German utility EON has also invested in a test site in Ireland for drones that are designed to fly at high altitudes and generate energy.