£5m boost for offshore wind ‘gamechanger’

Kite power testing, part of the research and development work. � Kite Power Systems Ltd 2015
Kite power testing, part of the research and development work. � Kite Power Systems Ltd 2015

Plans by Kite Power Systems (KPS) to establish a research and test facility on a former airbase near West Freugh have been boosted by £5 million of investment.

Multinationals E.ON, Schlumberger and Shell Technology Ventures have all backed the new venture.

KPS has already secured planning consent to deploy a 500kW power system at West Freugh near Stranraer next year. This will lead to a planned onshore demonstration array of multiple 500kW systems within the next three to four years.

Thereafter, KPS will develop a 3MW onshore system at West Freugh and then deploy a similar sized power system in offshore waters.

KPS’s kite power technology has the potential to transform the global offshore wind generation market as it is cheaper to manufacture and requires less construction and installation materials than conventional wind turbines.

The lower cost means that kite power generation would not need government subsidies and could be deployed in UK and Irish waters (and other areas of the North Sea) and in waters up to and potentially deeper than 40m found offshore of countries such as Portugal, Japan and the USA. Kite Power Systems can also be deployed onshore.

Paul Jones, Chief Financial Officer of KPS said: “The new investment from three major international businesses is an endorsement of the R&D work that the KPS team has carried out and demonstrates support for our technology and our business. The backing of these companies will accelerate KPS’s commercial development plans towards deploying lower cost, deep-water offshore wind energy on a global scale.”

KPS was established in 2011 and to date has invested more than £3m in technology development, with financial support coming from the UK Government (via DECC’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund and Innovate UK), Shell’s GameChanger programme and private investors.

Frank Meyer, Senior Vice President B2C & Innovation at E.ON said: “E.ON has been looking into airborne wind technologies for five years. The approach of Kite Power Solutions has the potential to become a game changer for the wind energy market. It supports one of our overall targets to drive down the costs for renewable energy. In addition to this, we catch the opportunity to be a first mover in producing renewable energy at locations where it is, for economic and technical reasons, not possible today.”