Google Acquires Unique Airborne Wind Turbine Technology
Kyle Maxey posted on May 29, 2013 |
Google’s advanced research division, Google[x], buys wind energy startup

makani, power, wind, energy, google, googlexGoogle[x], has acquired Makani Power, an energy startup that builds airborne wind turbines (AWTs).

While the acquisition of Makani Power is a first for the tech giant’s secretive research arm, Google[x] has been investing in Makani Power since 2006. Back then Google[x] invested $10 million in the company and in 2008 followed that investment with another $5 million. From outside impressions it appears that Google[x]’s initial investments have paid off as the company has decided to acquire Makani Power outright. 

According to Astro Teller, “captain of moonshots” at Google[x], “Creating clean energy is one of the most pressing issues facing the world, and Google for years has been interested in helping to solve this problem.” Teller continued, “Makani Power’s technology has opened the door to a radical new approach to wind energy.  They’ve turned a technology that today involves hundreds of tons of steel and precious open space into a problem that can be solved with really intelligent software.  We’re looking forward to bringing them into Google[x].”

makani, power, wind, energy, google, googlex
But what exactly is Makani building?

Makani Power’s AWTs are essentially small airplanes (Makani calls them “wings”) that are launched into the air while still remaining tethered to a central station.  Multiple “wings” are sent up from a single station and flown in a circular formation to catch high altitude winds.  The energy generated by each wing is sent back to the central station where it’s then delivered to the grid.

According to Makani, their turbines eliminate “90% of the material used in conventional wind turbines, and can access winds both at higher altitudes and above deep waters offshore — resources that are currently untapped.”

If Makani’s airborne wind turbine technology can be deployed on a “ultility-scale” massive swaths of coastline could be used to generate clean, cheap energy. According to Makaini’s own research “Makani systems could replace approximately 19.7 TWh/yr” by 2020. That’s roughly equivalent to the consumption from 1.75M US homes per year. 

Watch a Few Videos of Makani’s Wind Turbines In Action:

Images and Video Courtesy of Makani Power

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