How Google-owned Startup Makani is Tackling a Major Challenge in Renewable Energy
A major issues when it comes to renewable energy is space. For island nations, space is critical as there’s a pretty limited amount and it’s generally used for necessities such as agriculture. So, when one looks at a place such as the Hawaiian islands, it’s difficult to find where a major solar or wind farm could fit in.
Makani, a Google-owned startup, is looking to solve this problem via its flying wind turbines. The company, which is part of the Google X division, is working in Hawaii specifically to develop the turbine as it hopes it will lead to greater renewable energy utilization and reduced cost.
Makani is known for designing and developing lightweight kites that can harness wind energy from a high altitude. The concept is both similar and different to offshore wind or solar farms. While the ultimate goal is the same, the methodology couldn’t be more different.
The project is taking place in a small plot of land on the Big Island just south of Waimea. Smaller prototypes of the wind kite have already been tested, though none of them match the size of the current one.
UK Sales Director for Google Peter Fitzgerald said the costs of renewable energy could be reduced because the turbines don’t require poles like traditional ones would.
“You have to spend a lot of money on steel and concrete to build these massive turbines and you can only do that in about 15 per cent of the world where the wind is fast enough,” he said, adding that the new tethered turbines would get around these restrictions.
The kite flies about 1,000 ft. off the ground and can has the generation potential to power 300 homes.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.