Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Energy Kites

PostedMay 15, 2011

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins: Winds are generally stronger and more consistent further from the ground. So Makani Power, is launching propeller-controlled aircraft to tap that energy. Mechanical engineer Corwin Hardham is their C-E-O.

Corwin Hardham: The thing that is different with our aircraft is that ours is tied to the ground with a flexible tether. And that energy gets piped down the tether to the ground…

Randy Atkins: …and, one day, to the grid. It’s a computer-guided kite engineered to fly itself in a nearly circular path…

Corwin Hardham: …because that’s one of the most effective paths for generating energy.

Randy Atkins: Hardham says the system is about 90-percent lighter than conventional wind turbines, and can be more easily installed in a wider range of locations.

Corwin Hardham: We expect to be cost-competitive with the cheapest of the fossil fuel energy sources.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.


The airborne wind turbines are expected to be available in 2015.