Gallery: Google X Buys Airborne Wind Turbine Company Makani Power

google x makani airborne wind turbine

Google X, the tech giant’s top secret experimental branch, recently announced that it will take over Makani Power, a startup that develops wind turbines that fly through the air like a kite, rather than being mounted on massive poles cemented into the ground. The acquisition is just one of many significant investments Google has made into renewable energy technologies, and indicates that airborne wind turbines might soon be ready to move out of the experimental phase and into commercial reality.

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  1. mikebarnard October 31, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Close assessment of Google’s Makani generation shows that they have serious challenges and shortfalls. Significant portions of the wind farm will likely have to be shut down for maintenance of individual units due to safety requirements. They will require dedicated remote land as safety requires preclude being near public roads or electrical lines, and the workers’ safety and insurance organizations will be unsupportive of anyone being in such a wind farm. They probably won’t work at all in winter conditions. And most tellingly, a Makani farm just won’t outperform much simpler and more robust HAWTs of equivalent scale in the same conditions. Conventional wind turbines can be interspersed among working farms, taking up 1% of the land and adding significant revenue to productive agricultural concerns; Makani’s can’t. It’s unlikely that onshore Makani farms of any scale or number will be built; offshore is only slightly more likely.

  2. Egalitare May 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Airborne wind just got a lot closer to commercial viability. Still some kinks to work out, but really big step!

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