Giant kites could soon be seen in the UK's skies to use wind power to generate energy, according to a firm developing the idea. Katie Gregory reports.
Kites may be great fun...but soon we could see them taking flight to generate power too. On a windy airfield in southerm Scotland, a glimpse of how they could generate renewable energy. The technology involves rigging two giant kites to either side of a generator. The first rises with the wind, up to a height of 450 metres. That movement pulls a rope off a drum which turns the generator, producing electricity. SOUNDBITE (English) BILL HAMPTON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, KITE POWER SYSTEMS, SAYING "So basically what you've got is a pair of kites, and they work out of phase so you get continuous generation. So what they're doing is one kite is flying - it's doing the same as the tip of a wind turbine blade. It's flying very fast forwards and by flying forwards it's generating lift, which is putting tension on the tether. So what it's not - it's not a parachute being pulled away from the base, it's a wing that's flying. And that lift is pulling on the tether and pulling line off a drum that is rotating and generating electricity. " The idea is to eventually establish commercial scale off-shore "kite farms", possibly with hundreds of systems working at the same time. A proposed kite farm in Scotland with two fully sized kites could generate around three megawatts of electricity -- enough to power around 3000 homes in the UK. SOUNDBITE (English) DAMIAN RYAN, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND IMPACT, THE CLIMATE GROUP, SAYING; "If you think about it, wind and solar ten years ago no one said they were going to be where they are now. Maybe kite power can do the same." At the moment it may just seem like a kite in a field. But the developers are confident they're at the forefront of a new breakthrough renewable technology - coming soon to a skyline near you.