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UK start-up hopes its kite power will take off in Brazil

Green innovation news - by Louise Bateman
9th October 2013
A UK start-up, which is developing high performance kites to generate electricity, is heading to Brazil to explore business opportunities for its next generation wind technology in offshore wind and remote mining.
Kite Power Solutions, based in Essex, is still at proof of concept stage with its technology, but next month is joining 16 other innovative UK cleantech companies on a trade mission to look at business opportunities in Brazil aimed at tacking climate change and improving resource efficiency.

Continuous power production
Kite Power Solutions’ patented technology uses two kites, similar in shape to the blade tip of a traditional wind turbine, flying in a circular path perpendicular to the wind to drive a generator based locally on the ground. 

Bill Hampton, managing director of Kite Power Solutions, told GreenWise his company's technology provided continuous power production and could "massively reduce" the cost of production and deployment of wind energy, compared to wind turbines. 

Earlier this year, it emerged that Google had acquired California based start-up Makani Power behind the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine, a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles where wind is more consistent, because it was radically cheaper and easier to deploy than a normal wind turbine. 

Kite Power Solutions, which is understood to have received funding from the Shell Gamechanger programme, is still several years away from commercialisation, but Hampton said the trip to Brazil had come at the right time for the company. "It will take us four or five years to physically deploy in a new area – by going to Brazil now it means that when we reach commercialisation deployment won’t take as long," he explained. 

New markets
Kite Power Solutions wants to identify potential customers in two key markets in Brazil. "One of the first markets we are looking at is mineral extraction where remote power is required using diesel generators. There are very large remote mines in Brazil. Our other key market is offshore wind and two of the best offshore wind farms are off the coast of Brazil," said Hampton. 

The trip to Brazil is being organised by the 'Clean and Cool Mission’ programme managed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Government-backed agency focused on creating economic growth through innovation

"Brazil is the fifth largest market in the world with a broad and sophisticated industrial base. This week-long event will open up the Brazilian market to the 'Mission’ businesses, boost Britain’s growing clean technology sector and drive inward investment to the UK," David Bott, director of Innovation Programmes at TSB, said. 

Other technologies that will be showcased on the trip include a carbon-neutral biocoal, developed by a company called Antaco, and a chemical-free solution which enables the purification of drinking and waste water developed by Hydro Industries. 

Second mission
The Clean and Cool Mission to Brazil is the second TSB funded trade mission this year for London-based Buffalo Grid. The start-up, which which has created a solar-powered micro-generator that allows people that are off-grid to charge their mobile phones through pay-as-you-go cashless transactions using text messaging, won a place to explore trading opportunities in India in February. 
"The trip to India has been great for us as we were able to find a partner," company founder Daniel Becerra said. "We will be deploying our first trial units in India in January and February next year and aim to rollout 2000 units within two years." 

Becerra said Brazil was "a similar proposition" to India, just on a smaller scale. "In India, there are 300 million mobile users without access to power; in Brazil there are 14 million living in the Amazon," he explained. 

The other companies going on the Brazil mission are Clayworks, which produces natural clay plaster finishes that are bio-degradable; Clearview Traffic Group, which has developed solar-powered road studs; environmental data company Codbod; designer LED lamp developer Cool-Curve; smart grid company Cyan; Elemental Digest Systems, which turns organic waste from abattoirs into natural fertiliser on site; mobile app company Embedded Technology Solutions; forest carbon project, The Floresta Group; PAPA Pump, which has designed a series of zero energy water management systems; waste-to-energy firms, RE Hydrogen Ltd and SEaB Energy; environmental analyst firm, Rezatec; and supply chain sustainability software company trakeo.

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