German energy group E.ON invests in UK start-up Kite Power Solutions

German energy group E.ON had invested in a UK start-up business that plans to use sails instead of rotors to harness wind energy.

In a fresh funding round, Kite Power Solutions (KPS) secured € 6 million that, in addition to E.ON, included oil industry services company Schlumberger and Royal Dutch Shell, E.ON said yesterday.

The technology will generate electricity from wind by flying sails comparable to the ones used in kite surfing in altitudes of up to 450 metres (1,476 ft), which was much higher and far less expensive than current wind turbines.

"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," Frank Meyer, senior vice president at E.ON's B2C & Innovation unit said, Reuters reported.

According to commentators, the move formed part of a broader trend in the energy industry, in which, pressures to shift away from fossil fuel-fired power plants had triggered a race to develop new technologies that companies hoped could help transform the industry.

According to KPS, Kite power technology had the potential to transform the global offshore wind generation market due to its lower costs of generation, construction and installation than conventional wind turbines.

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," Belfast Telegraph reported.

"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."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said, "We hope the investment enables this emerging renewable technology to achieve its aim of developing a commercial-scale project."