The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Google Reels In Wind-Kite Firm Makani

Extending its already deep reach into renewable energy, Google reportedly has acquired a startup and its flying-kite wind turbines that promise to tap better wind energy resources at higher altitudes with far lower costs and more efficient output.

Google, no stranger to clean energy as both a purchaser and investor of large-scale wind and solar power, reportedly has acquired Makani Power and its flying kite-design wind turbine, after years of being a major investor in the firm. Makani would be paired up with the Google X research labs, whose early-stage offspring include driverless cars and Google Glass. BusinessWeek's Brad Stone says Google CEO Larry Page finally approved the deal which was proposed a year ago, with the stipulation that they must "crash at least five of the devices in the near future" — presumably amid efforts to prove and improve the technology's performance and reliability.

We've looked at Makani and similar high-flying wind technology innovations in the past, but here's the Makani pitch in a nutshell: its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) flies in a big circle within stronger winds at 800-2,000-foot altitudes, with rotors designed to act as both a turbine and as a propeller; direct-drive generators send electricity back down its tether to a ground station. The AWT could be reeled in and "perched" and then reeled out again during extended periods of low wind or bad weather, or for maintenance. It's especially well suited for deployment in areas less favorable to traditional tower-based designs, such as lower-wind-speed areas and offshore (especially deeper water).

Makani says the AWT delivers about twice the energy per unit of capacity than conventional turbines, producing power at half the cost, and using 90 percent less material. The company touts a cost of energy competitive with conventional wind in the best existing wind sites (e.g. Kansas), and less than half the price in other areas such as offshore. Individual power output is small; models tested so far are 30-kW with plans to scale up to 600-kW, but conceivably many could be strung to collectively produce a few megawatts.

Earlier this month the company completed its first fully autonomous flight of its Wing 7 prototype. "We look forward to working with our new colleagues at Google[x] to make airborne wind a cost-effective reality," Makani says in a statement on its Web site.


Renewable Energy Finance

Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Green investing used to be synonymous with losing money. But while the S&P 500 Index is up 2 percent this year, and the MSCI All-Country World Index is up 5 percent, clean energy ETFs have double-digit re...

Wheels, Towers and Trees: Unconventional Renewable Energy Technologies in the Pipeline

Andrew Williams, International Correspondent A number of companies around the world are developing novel technologies in an effort to grab a slice of the global renewable energy market.  Although many of these technologies are simple incremental improvements to e...
UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that ha...
Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...


Volume 18, Issue 3


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



Doing Business in Brazil – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

Brazil is one of the most promising markets for wind energy.  Ranke...

Energy Storage USA 2015

Energy Storage USA is the leading conference in the United States focuse...

Wind Power Central America

Wind power projects are expected to reach 46GW of total installed capaci...


SunEdison Expands Residential Market Offerings with New PPA, Sales ...

SunEdison has largely focussed on the commercial and utility-scale solar...

Deadline for Inclusion in Solar Power World's Top Solar Contractors...

UPDATE: The official deadline for the Solar Power World T...

Are You Ready for a Natural Disaster?

Guest post by Jenna Clarke  Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virg...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now