Giant Kite Plus Hydroelectric Turbine Equals Innovative, Floating Power Plant
The cornerstone of the project is a 6.5 million-square-foot parafoil kite flying one-mile high in the air, where the winds are steady. As the kite pulls the boat, seawater travels through the turbine attached to the bottom of the vessel. The 800 megawatts of electricity produced would then separate the hydrogen and oxygen in the water. The separated hydrogen would then be stored on the boat for future use. Now, Park and Kim hypothesize that if you put boats like this in the water at intervals of 12.4-miles in two zones -- one in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern Hemisphere -- you could generate enough electricity to power the entire world.
While it may sound far-fetched, the kite-based SkySails system (video) is already in use and helps giant cargo ships to be more efficient. That said, the largest parafoil kite currently produced is about 945 times smaller than the one needed to pull off this idea. And even if it were built, there'd still be concerns about funding, weather and protecting the vessels while they sail. Not to mention, how will the ship's location within the ocean affect who gets to use the power?
Nonetheless, it's going to take some forward thinking like this if we hope to further green energy. If the manufacturing hurdles can be cleared, we could one day see some mobile power plants drifting along the horizon. [From: Science Direct and Wired]