Kite turbine project gets financial uplift

Rod Read is hoping to make kite energy a reality. Photo: Highlands and Islands Enterprise

A SHETLAND based new energy company has been awarded £40,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help make kite energy a reality.

Rod Read recently moved from Lewis to Shetland and is now in the process of setting up a larger test centre at the former oil airport at Scatsta.

His company Windswept and Interesting Ltd started developing kite turbines in 2012.

Originally aimed at eco travellers, electric vehicles and the agricultural industry, Read is now increasing the scale and scope from one that produces 1.5kW to a 10kW improved version of the concept.

Generating power through kites is a relatively new concept but one that is now gathering global interest as a scalable carbon-neutral power option for the future.

The turbine system uses wind to lift a kite high in the air and connects to the hoops of a rotary kite, which turns a ground-based generator to produce power.

He has been working with research partners and academia including the University of Strathclyde to develop the system.

The funding from HIE will help cover some of the cost of £190,000 needed for the first phase of the project. It is expected that two jobs will be created over the next three years.

Senior HIE development manager John MacKenzie said: “This is a really exciting project and one that could potentially benefit remote communities and create more jobs in our region.

“The innovative energy system is low-cost and uses less carbon than other renewable energy options.

“The mechanisms behind kite turbines are new and the system is an emerging technology, which could make the Highlands and Islands a leader in this new field of technology.”

Read and his family moved to Shetland last year after his wife, Kirsty became the new medical director in Shetland.

He said: “The whole idea with kite power is about making lightweight and scalable systems, which can fly in stronger winds at higher altitudes.

“The operational capacity of kite turbines to scale is not yet known, which is the biggest research and development challenge faced in bringing the product to market and this is what this project aims to address.

“Shetland offers a fantastic opportunity to prove durability and reliability in higher wind speeds. We are really pleased with the funding we have received from HIE to support our project.”

The company was successful in securing Shell’s Gamechanger funding and has also been awarded funding from Shetland Islands Council.

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