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Kite power station to open at MoD range in Stranraer

It is claimed the project, one of the world's first, will half the cost of offshore wind energy.

By STV News

Published 07 Oct 2016.

A renewable energy firm will create one of the world's first kite power stations in Scotland.

Kite Power Solutions said the new power station at the Ministry of Defence's West Freugh range in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, will be in operation by March 2017.

The firm claims kite power will halve the cost of offshore wind energy, dispensing with the need for government subsidies.

The station produces power via a pair of kites of up to 70 metre squares attached to two spool drums connected to electricity turbines.

As one kite rises up to a height of 750 metres, it pulls a tether and then flies in a figure of eight pattern, turning the turbine.

The kites work in tandem so while one falls, the other rises, generating electricity continuously.

A full-sized kite will be 40 metres wide and able to generate two to three megawatts of electricity, comparable to a 100m conventional turbine.

Planning permission has been granted for the 500-kilowatt demonstration system at West Freugh and the company believes it will be an important stepping stone in developing commercial systems within the next few years.

David Ainsworth, the firm's business development director, said: "This is the third evolution of our technology and the next step after the 500kW will be to develop a 3MW system at West Freugh, which is planned for 2019.

"We believe that we will be able to halve the cost of offshore wind.

"We can install offshore wind installations at a much lower price and can produce offshore wind without the need for government subsidies."

He said the installed and on-stream cost for kite power stations is around five euro cents (4p) per kilowatt hour, compared to about 10 cents (9p) for traditional offshore wind turbines.

The firm has already tested the technology via a much smaller project in Essex and now plans to move its headquarters to Glasgow and double in size in preparation for the West Freugh scheme.

The new project will be the first of its scale in the UK and the second in the world after a research project in Italy.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the development.

He said: "When it comes to renewables, Scotland's ambitions clearly know no bounds.

"Kite power technology offers the prospect of an exciting new way to harness the power of the wind, particularly in places where it might be impractical to erect a wind turbine.

"Alongside energy reduction schemes and other renewables, this technology could contribute to helping us to end our addiction to climate-changing fossil fuels."