Plans by Kite Power Systems to set up a Scottish research and test facility at a former military air strip at West Freugh, near Stranraer, have been supported by £5 million of new investment from E.ON, Schlumberger and Shell Technology Ventures (STV).
Kite Power has already secured planning consent to deploy a 500kW power system at West Freugh next year (2017). This will lead to a planned onshore demonstration array of multiple 500kW systems within the next 3-4 years. Thereafter, KPS will develop a 3MW onshore system at West Freugh and then deploy a similar sized power system in offshore waters.
While there are other high altitude wind power systems under development around the world, the patented KPS system is unique and KPS is the only British company active in the kite power market.
Following Shell’s support to Kite Power since 2012 through its GameChanger programme, which provides early-stage start-up companies with financial and technical support to demonstrate the practical and commercial viability of their ideas, Shell’s corporate venturing arm STV chose to invest in KPS.
Geert van de Wouw, Managing Director, Shell Technology Ventures, said: “We have closely followed Kite Power’s progress over the years and consider that its disruptive wind technology is on the right trajectory towards commercialisation. I have been impressed by KPS’s ability to continuously meet the challenging milestones Shell has set them during this period.
“Over time, KPS has convinced me that its high altitude kite power solution has disruptive potential for the wind industry. It is an interesting contribution to renewable energy generation and a good fit to explore through Shell’s New Energies business.”
Kite Power’s 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, Kite Power,said: “The new investment from three major international businesses is an endorsement of the R&D work that we have carried out. The backing of these companies will accelerate out 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 £3 million 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 at E.ON said: “We have 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.”
Oil and gas services company Schlumberger chose to invest in Kite Power because the technology has the potential to be deployed in varied locations including offshore oil platforms, remote onshore drilling operations and decommissioned offshore wind turbine towers.