Kite Power

According to a survey conducted by reasearchers at Carnegie Institution and Calfornia State University, there is great potential for harvesting wind energy from jet streams around the world.  The wind's movement at altitudes up to 30,000 ft is much stronger and more consistent than near-surface gusts.  The power available in these streams can exceed estimates of surface wind-power tenfold.  This makes it a very attractive source of clean and renewable energy.  The trick is figuring out a way to physically harness the wind at such heights.  One of the most promising designs seeks to suspend kite-like turbines at high-altitudes to gather and channel the energy through tethers connected below.

So far researchers have identified several locations around the world with optimum conditions for implementing a project like this.  New York City has the highest average high-altitude wind density in the US at nearly 16 kilowatts per hour.  In comparison, ground wind mills usually generate less than 1 kilowatt per hour.  Even harvesting a fraction of this resource could have a positive impact on energy supplies.  Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution believes that there is enough energy produced by the jet streams to meet all of modern civilization's demands.  Significant investments in new infrastructure would allow for proper storage and distribution.      


Image from Sky Windpower