12 Comments

Summary:

Google.org seems to share its founders’ passion for wind sports. The philanthropic arm of the search giant has invested another $5 million into high-altitude wind startup Makani Power, PEHub reports. The money is part of a series B round that could garner more than $20 million […]

Google.org seems to share its founders’ passion for wind sports. The philanthropic arm of the search giant has invested another $5 million into high-altitude wind startup Makani Power, PEHub reports. The money is part of a series B round that could garner more than $20 million for the Alameda, Calif.-based startup. The company had previously raised $10 million from Google in a series A round in 2006.

Not much is known about the stealthy startup, which has said it is “designing membrane structures to cover large areas of the sky,” and boasts a large amount of kite designers on its team. Founded in 2006 by Saul Griffith and former World Cup windsurfer Don Montague, the company has nearly 30 employees, many of them also kitesurfers. By putting a kite or similar structure up 5 to 10 kilometers in the air the company could tap the strong winds at high altitudes. The power of wind is related to the cube of its velocity, meaning you can get way more energy out of faster blowing wind.

One of the most attractive things about high altitude wind is its consistency. Griffith said at the Fortune Green Conference earlier this year that, while traditional wind is only 33 percent reliable, high altitude wind could provide utilities with an energy source that is 75 percent dependable, making it far more viable as a base-load energy source. While Makani has been very quiet about its “science project,” as Griffith described it to the San Francisco Chronicle, he added at the conference that the company has collected data from more than 200 test sites.

This is the third cleantech investment we’ve seen from Google.org’s Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal campaign this summer. Last month, the search engine turned cleantech investor made a play into transportation, with investments in electric car maker Aptera and battery developer ActaCell. And just last week, Google.org announced $10.25 million in geothermal energy investments.

  1. $ 5million ??????????

    Share
  2. [...] Earth2Tech reports wind startup Makani Power has pulled in $20 million, including $5 million from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org. Makani has been stealthy, but appears to be working on a system for tapping airflow high in the atmosphere. [...]

    Share
  3. [...] Week Wire reported that Google has put $5mm into kite-power startup Makani, as part of an ongoing Series [...]

    Share
  4. [...] startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal company Potter Drilling. Google had more deals than well-known cleantech investors [...]

    Share
  5. [...] startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal company Potter Drilling. Google had more deals than well-known cleantech investors [...]

    Share
  6. [...] Makani Power, still in stealth mode, uses patented “membrane structures” to harness high-altitude wind power. Think of its product as a gigantic, eco-functional kite. The kite gets launched several miles into the air and captures high-altitude winds, which are more dependable than winds closer to the ground. Not surprisingly, the company is staffed by a fair number of kitesurfers. Google has invested $11 million into Makani. [...]

    Share
  7. [...] Makani Power, still in stealth mode, uses patented “membrane structures” to harness high-altitude wind power. Think of its product as a gigantic, eco-functional kite. The kite gets launched several miles into the air and captures high-altitude winds, which are more dependable than winds closer to the ground. Not surprisingly, the company is staffed by a fair number of kitesurfers. Google has invested $11 million into Makani. [...]

    Share
  8. [...] See also this:  Google Blows $5M More Into Makani’s High Altitude Wind [...]

    Share
  9. James Macnaghten Friday, May 22, 2009

    Because Google have invested this whole system seems to have avoided proper technical due diligence. I am a great fan of innovation, but what is proposed seems to have some fairly basic flaws. What I do not understand is why no one is asking them proper questions.

    For example to generate lift you have to create drag and the last time i looked 30,000 ft of any cable (and conductor to get the power out) weighs quite a bit. Just to lift the cable before you have extracted any energy means creates drag and that means your nice kite is no longer flying vertically, but at say 45 degrees to the ground.

    The company want their kites to be in the jetstream, so suddenly they need the cable to be 1.5 times longer, which means you have even more weight to keep flying. Of course as soon as you extract energy from the wind you are slowing down the wind and this creates extra drag over the bit that keeps you aloft. Lets be optimistic and say that the kite is now flying at an angle of 30 degrees to the ground at this point. If they want to stay in the jetstream their cable is now 90,000 ft (???) long. In reality most of would be on the ground.

    Share
  10. Mr. Macnaghten,
    Many are exploring scores of airborne wind energy (AWE) options. Questions are being faced. Proving systems are increasing. High and low altitude solutions are showing promise. We are gathering in a forum and evolving web for open-source energy kite systems and support closed-source operations.
    EnergyKiteSystems.net Your analysis style is invited to the same.
    Lift,
    Joe

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post