Kiwi flies a super kite - and reels in Google funds

Last updated 00:11 20/05/2008

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A Kiwi who wants to use giant kites soaring a kilometre into the sky to harness cheap and green wind power has hauled in a US$10 million (NZ$13 million) investment from Internet giant Google.

Based in the United States, Pete Lynn is at the forefront of efforts to generate power by flying kites in the troposphere, the lowest part of the Earth's atmosphere.

He has been working on his plans for the past five years.

He describes the super kites as "tethered free-flying wings" and believes they could harness the power of the wind without having to build expensive wind turbines.

Experts believe kite-farm energy could cost only a quarter as much as conventional turbines.

Kites could generate power as they sail up to 1000 metres high, their giant tethers unwinding and spinning electric generators on the ground.

Mr Lynn grew up in Ashburton, Canterbury, the son of one of the world's top kite designers, Peter Lynn.

He was one of New Zealand's first kite-surfers.

Mr Lynn now works as a consultant for US company Makani Power and is recognised as a leading expert in kite power generation.

Makani Power has got a $12.5 million investment from Google to develop the concept.

The idea of huge kites flying so high has raised fears that they will be an aviation hazard.

But Bas Lansdorp, of Delft University in the Netherlands, said a combination of no-fly zones and beacons would fix the problem.

New Zealand Wind Energy Association chief executive Fraser Clark said the kite-power concept was interesting, "but they have a fair way to go yet".

It showed the progress being made with alternative energy sources.

"Every now and then someone comes along and you make this big leap."

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- The Dominion Post

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