E.On, Shell and and Schlumberger invest £5m in kite power generation firm

E.On, Shell and and Schlumberger have invested £5m in British start up Kite Power Systems (KPS), which makes high-altitude wind power generation technology.

This latest investment will support the company’s plans to deploy a 500 kilowatt power system at West Freugh in Southwest Scotland next year, leading to an onshore demonstration array of multiple 500 kilowatt systems within the next four years. Thereafter, KPS will develop a 3 megawatt onshore system and then deploy a similar sized power system in offshore waters.

KPS, formerly known as Kite Power Solutions, said its kite power technology is cheaper to manufacture and requires less construction and installation materials than conventional wind turbines. It can also be installed in waters up to and potentially deeper than 40m, as well as onshore. The company claims its technology can be installed for as much as 50% less capital expenditure compared to conventional offshore turbines, because its patented power system doesn’t require large quantities of steel or specialist installation vessels. The lower cost means that kite power generation would not need government subsidies, KPS said.

Paul Jones, chief financial officer of KPS said: “The new investment from three major international businesses is an endorsement of the R&D work that the KPS team has carried out and demonstrates support for our technology and our business. The backing of these companies will accelerate KPS’s commercial development plans towards deploying lower cost, deep-water offshore wind energy on a global scale.”

KPS was established in 2011 and to date has invested more than £3m in technology development, with financial support coming from the UK government (via DECC’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund and Innovate UK), Shell’s GameChanger programme and private investors.

Following Shell’s support to KPS since 2012 through its GameChanger programme, which provides early-stage start-up companies with financial and technical support to demonstrate the practical and commercial viability of their ideas, Shell’s corporate-venturing arm Shell Technology Ventures  (STV) chose to invest in KPS.

Geert van de Wouw, managing director of Shell Technology Ventures said:  “We have closely followed KPS’s progress over the years and consider that its disruptive wind technology is on the right trajectory towards commercialisation. I have been impressed by KPS’s ability to continuously meet the challenging milestones Shell has set them during this period. Over time, KPS has convinced me that its high altitude kite power solution has disruptive potential for the wind industry. It is an interesting contribution to renewable energy generation and a good fit to explore through Shell’s New Energies business.”

E.ON is headquartered in Germany and is focusing entirely on renewables, energy grids and customer solutions.  Frank Meyer, senior vice president for innovation at E.ON said:  “E.ON has been looking into airborne wind technologies for five years. The approach of Kite Power Solutions has the potential to become a game changer for the wind energy market. It supports one of our overall targets to drive down the costs for renewable energy. In addition to this, we catch the opportunity to be a first mover in producing renewable energy at locations where it is, for economic and technical reasons, not possible today.”

As a major oil & gas services company, Schlumberger chose to invest in KPS because the technology has the potential to be deployed in varied locations including offshore oil platforms, remote onshore drilling operations and decommissioned offshore wind turbine towers.

With immediate effect, Kite Power Solutions will trade as Kite Power Systems.  Next year, the company will open its research and test facility at West Freugh, a former airbase owned by the UK Ministry of Defence and which is located in south west Scotland.

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