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BLOOMBERG: Flying Wind Turbines Make Their First Trip Offshore in Norway

Shell’s kite wind project deployed in the North Sea. Source: Makani Power Inc.

By Will Mathis: 15 August 2019, 13:00 BST

Alphabet-subsidiary Makani completes test in the North Sea

Airborne machine could work in some of the deepest waters

A carbon-fiber kite tethered to a buoy floating in waters 220 meters (761 feet) deep took flight in a test to prove that the future of offshore wind power might fly through the air.

The kite, owned by the Alphabet Inc.-subsidiary Makani and backed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, completed its first demonstration about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) off the coast of Norway in the North Sea.

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RELATED

An ‘energy kite’ wind power venture start-up backed by Google’s parent company and Shell has made its debut offshore flights.

The Makani team made two test flights off Norway last week – the second ending with the loss off the kite when it failed to successfully land on a floating platform.

Makani is a spin-off from Google parent company Alphabet and was backed by Shell in an investment by the oil and gas giant earlier this year.

Its developers hope the system can take floating offshore wind to a new level by tapping into high-altitude winds unreachable to conventional turbines.

CEO Fort Felker said: “Makani’s successful autonomous flight from a floating platform demonstrates that this new offshore wind power technology works.”

The two flights from a floating offshore platform deployed in 220-metre water depths – one short, the other longer-duration – showed the kite can launch, hover, and demonstrate “robust crosswind flight”, said Makani.

However, after the second flight “it did not successfully land on the platform, and the flight ended with the loss of the energy kite.

“Both offshore flights gave us a wealth of new information that the team is now busy analysing and applying to making system improvements,” said Felker.

“Next steps include additional flights onshore in Hawaii and offshore in Norway with a focus on flying in a range of environmental conditions, perfecting our landings at sea, and refining our remote operations.”

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