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Shell and Google-owner 'energy kite' in first offshore flight

Makani tests high-altitude floating wind system offshore for first time off Norway

An ‘energy kite’ wind power venture start-up backed by Google’s parent company and Shell has made its debut offshore flights.

The Makani team made two test flights off Norway last week – the second ending with the loss off the kite when it failed to successfully land on a floating platform.

Makani is a spin-off from Google parent company Alphabet and was backed by Shell in an investment by the oil and gas giant earlier this year.

Its developers hope the system can take floating offshore wind to a new level by tapping into high-altitude winds unreachable to conventional turbines.

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CEO Fort Felker said: “Makani’s successful autonomous flight from a floating platform demonstrates that this new offshore wind power technology works.”

The two flights from a floating offshore platform deployed in 220-metre water depths – one short, the other longer-duration – showed the kite can launch, hover, and demonstrate “robust crosswind flight”, said Makani.

However, after the second flight “it did not successfully land on the platform, and the flight ended with the loss of the energy kite.

“Both offshore flights gave us a wealth of new information that the team is now busy analysing and applying to making system improvements,” said Felker.

“Next steps include additional flights onshore in Hawaii and offshore in Norway with a focus on flying in a range of environmental conditions, perfecting our landings at sea, and refining our remote operations.”

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