Google has acquired a US energy start-up company that generates power using turbines mounted on wings tethered to the ground like a kite.
Makani Power will be part of Google X, the secretive research and development arm of the search engine giant, which previously invested $15 million (£9.94m) in the renewable firm.
Makani’s airborne wind turbine (AWT) (pictured) works like any conventional one. Air moving across the turbine blades forces them to rotate, driving a generator to produce electricity. On a conventional turbine blade, the tip is the most effective part and is responsible for most of the energy produced. Makani’s AWT mounts small turbine and generator pairs on a “wing” that itself acts like the top of a traditional turbine blade.
In a statement on its website, Makani Power said: “We are happy to announce that Makani Power is being acquired by Google. This formalises a long and productive relationship between our two companies and will provide Makani with the resources to accelerate our work to make wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuels. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at Google X to make airborne wind a cost-effective reality.”
The firm has just successfully completed tests on a 30kW prototype to see if its control system lets it launch, hover, generate power and land without human intervention. Makani aims for fully working models to generate 600kW of energy.