The kites seeking the world’s surest winds

Excerpt from bbc.com

Look up over the white sand beaches of Mauritius and you may see a gigantic sail. It’s much like the kind used by paragliders or kite surfers but the size of a three-bedroom apartment, looping figures-of-eight overhead. The sail isn’t a tourist attraction – it’s creating electricity for the power grid of this island nation off the east coast of Africa.

Launched in December 2021 by German company SkySails Power, the massive wing is the world’s first fully autonomous commercial “airborne wind energy” system. For the past two months, the company says, it has been delivering a little under its goal of 100 kilowatts – typically enough to power up to 50 homes. That’s just a tiny fraction of the island’s electricity demand, but, SkySails hopes, a sign of things to come.

As the world heads towards net-zero emissions, pretty much every pathway for future electricity production foresees a big role for wind. The International Energy Association forecasts wind energy skyrocketing 11-fold by 2050, with wind and solar together accounting for 70% of the planet’s electricity demands. Thanks to the expanding number of wind turbines dotting fields and adorning ridgelines worldwide, the cost of wind power has plummeted by about 40% over the past decade.