Saipem backs KiteGen as 'energy kite' wind power takes off

Contracting giant to tap high-altitude winds to power oil & gas plants as it joins likes of Shell and Google's owner in sector

Italian contractor Saipem aims to pump clean electricity to oil & gas facilities using ‘kite power’ generated by high-altitude wind technology, joining the likes of Google's parent company and Shell in the fast-evolving sector.

Saipem has signed a deal with compatriot KiteGen to “support the development, construction and commercialisation” of the latter’s technology, one of a growing number of players in the high-altitude wind energy (HAWE) sector.

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KiteGen’s kite systems can tap into strong winds at altitudes of more than 1km, connected to a ground-based generator with a capacity of 3MW, the partners said in a statement.

Saipem said: “Among the possible developments of the KiteGen technology, Saipem is also working on its possible offshore application since the system, due to its lightness, can also be suitable in deep water, where wind turbines can’t be used.

“The lightweight features of the KiteGen technology will also allow Saipem to offer its customers hybrid solutions that integrate the production of high-altitude wind power to traditional solutions in the oil & gas sector.”

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KiteGen has been active in HAWE since the early part of the century and has 40 patents in more than 70 countries, said a statement. Details of the relationship with KiteGen were not given and no schedule was set for the technology’s roll-out.

Saipem and KiteGen’s partnership follows soon after news that Shell has joined Google parent company Alphabet to commercialise the latter’s Makani ‘energy kites’ tethered to floating offshore wind platforms – with first deployment off Norway planned later this year.

German utilities EnBW and EWE, together with kite wind specialist SkySails Power, are also planning their own HAWE deployment.

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