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Kitepower sails toward energy transition

Collin Arocho
Leestijd: 4 minuten

As the energy transition gets wind beneath its wings, one Yes!Delft start-up is drawing inspiration from Dutch astronaut and professor, the late Wubbo Ockels. Its solution: fly kites in order to harness wind energy and convert it into usable power.

After becoming the first Dutchman to go to space, Wubbo Ockels began working as a professor of aerospace engineering at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). In 1997, inspired by a friction burn he received while flying his kite, Ockels applied for a patent on a technology that could harness the energy of the wind and convert it into usable power. Just a year later, he was awarded the first-ever patent on laddermill technology – a kite-controlled, airborne turbine that can collect and store energy from the blowing wind.

In 2004, Ockels founded the kite power research group at TU Delft. The unit was designed to tackle scientific challenges like aerodynamics and automatic flight control of the tethered wing structure, as well as to design efficient generators to store the collected power. In 2016, after several years of technology development and product design, Kitepower was spun out of the university, lifting off with CEO Johannes Peschel holding the string. His goal: to bring this inexpensive and highly mobile system of clean energy generation to the market.

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