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In the Sky?

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Offshore wind power is indeed an exciting thought ("In the Wind," Feb. 22). I wonder if wind kites are on anyone's radar. I've been reading about them for a couple of years. They require 90 percent less materials than conventional turbines and tap into a much higher level of the atmosphere, where the winds are stronger. Wind is also more consistent at higher altitudes, lessening the need for baseload fuels.

It's easier to fly kites than to build huge towers, so they're suitable for a wide variety of sites, including offshore. They're deployed from floating structures that can be easily towed to shore for maintenance.

There are two basic types of wind kites. One is the invention of Makani Power, which equips the kites themselves with turbines and sends the energy through a wire down to the ground. Kite Power Systems generates electricity on the surface through a crank spun by the kite's tether. I think KPS is closer to actual availability. Bill Gates and Shell Oil have invested in the company, and a wind farm in Scotland should be online very soon.

I bet airborne wind energy (AWE) is the future of wind energy. I hope it's really soon. Maybe we'll have them here on the North Coast one of these days.

Martha Walden, Westhaven


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