Can kites become an energy source?

Friday I attended a field test of a "Kite Engine.”  It was conducted in an actual field, owned by Chapel Hill’s favorite dairy farm and ice cream shop, Maple View Farm. I recommend this place as a must when you visit Chapel Hill (another must).

WindLift is a budding wind power company with a difference.  Instead of 300 foot towers with giant propellers, CEO Rob Creighton has invented a way to harness the energy of wind pulling a kite – like those used in kite boarding.  You know…

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I’m sure you’ve tried it.

Anyway, I’m trying to be of some use to WindLift as they get started.  Since they’re in development stage, and I’m not an engineer, my job was kite tossing and picture taking.

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The concept is elegantly simple, and meant to address off-grid applications in developing countries with little maintenance.  In prototype mode, it has a very satisfying mechanical Erector Set aesthetic.  Boyhood memories of beloved contraptions abound.

Today’s experience solidified my keen interest in renewable energy, and gave me an enticing taste of the start of a sea change in the world.  However one may view climate change, watching a beautiful kite sail around above farmland, generating serious juice, is a convincing wordless argument for doing something other than digging up smoky stuff to burn.

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5 Responses to “Can kites become an energy source?”


  1. 1 Jeanne Coates April 7, 2009 at 4:35 am

    This is seriously cool stuff, and the first I’ve seen of it. Please keep me posted on their progress. Would love to see our area go this route. Neat tourist draw too.

  2. 2 Craig Wood April 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Good stuff. You are an innovative dude and a talented blogger (in short time). Keep up the great work, brother.

  3. 3 David Churbuck April 8, 2009 at 8:49 am

    amen to Craig Wood on fast ramp and good blogging.

    So, you omit to say how the contraption generates. Does it tug some drive mechanism that turns a dynamo? Are there turbines in the sky? Mega cool.

    • 4 Craig Merrigan April 8, 2009 at 9:28 am

      Thanks, David. On functionality, full revelation will come in time. But yes, the pulling force of the kite generates power, either mechanical or electrical. Elegantly simple concept.

  4. 5 sherly158 April 19, 2009 at 2:04 am

    wow, this is seriously cool. and do hope this kite can be part of the renewable source of energy in the future. cheers 🙂


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