Wind Power "Laddermills": High Altitude Kites to Replace Turbines?
High-altitude kites could be used to generate clean energy at a cost comparable with that of fossil fuel generation , researchers claim.
The "Laddermill" is a chain of controllable wing-like kites attached to a looped cable stretching more than five miles into the sky.
Strong high altitude winds acting on the "kitewings" produce as upward force on one side of the loop and a downward force on the other, causing it to rotate.
The slowly turning cable drives a power generator in the Laddermill base station.
Although the concept sounds far fetched, its developers at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands hope to build a working model in the next four years.
They claim one Laddermill could generate 100 megawatts of electricity, compared with only a few megawatts from a conventional wind turbine.
Winds at 30,000ft are 20 times more powerful than at sea level.
Professor Ockels, an ex-astronaut and head of the European Space Agency's education office, told The Engineer magazine: "Above a certain altitude there is a massive amount of wind power.
"Kites that can tap into that wind can generate a great deal of energy."Full Size Visualisation of Wind Energy Laddermill
Graph Comparing Wind Power Generation of a wind turbine vs. a laddermill based on height and windspeed