Our friends at EcoBlog.it, an Italian website that has many things in common with Treehugger, have sent us a translation of a short interview they did with Massimo Ippolito, a scientist who's working on a kite wind generator that could - according to simulations - produce up to 1 gigawatt of electricity. Our Italian-speaking readers can read the original interview here, and the rest can read EcoBlog's translation below (it is a bit rough, but understandable).Here it is:
Take some gigantic north winds like the ones kite surfers use. Put them up a kilometre high in the sky and let them revolve up there. On the ground a carousel collects their energy. Clean and renewable power. An Italian scientist is dreaming our future wind energy, his name is Massimo Ippolito. Eugenio Orsi interviewed him for Ecoblog.it.
What developed the creative process that sparked your project idea?
Good question... I'm afraid it's impossible to investigate how ideas are born. I have to say I participated to industrial research programs in the past, inertial measurement of movement and flight instrumentation - I guess this type of knowledge linked up with my consciousness of the energetic crisis and things took off from there. These being the premises, it'd have been unforgivable of me not to reach the KiteGen hypothesis.
Is it true a KiteGen might generate the same amount of energy as a nuclear plant?
Yes, we completed simulations up to 1 GW, about the same power as a regular plant, and bigger power levels are very likely. What seems like exaggeration is not: the single machine is modular and scales easily. System costs grow with a linear pattern, but wind interception and power of a bigger KiteGen grow with a square ratio linked to the turbine diameter. So when small scale functionality will be demonstrated, it's only natural that bigger machines will be built.
Would KiteGen energy be completely clean or is there any other environmental limit to be considered?
In relation to our heavy colonization of Planet Earth, no human activity is completely clean. KiteGen will require the use of steel and concrete, but we're talking about huge, though not infinite, fields of renewable energy. Massive exploitation of these sources could lead to consequences surely to be evaluated. This is a concern, clearly, but I'd love the success of such a machine to become a starting point in thinking about the current unsustainable development model of our society, with the complicity of oil-induced bad habits.
What is KiteGen development phase? Is there any national financing or is it going to be the same old story of Italian ideas and foreign capital?
We're quite close to a wing producing electrical energy, after an intense work of validation, emulation and detailed verification of our base scientific assumptions. Right now the project is still living on small time financing, but I feel our team enthusiasm is starting to influence financial and political institutions. KiteGen is a very complex project that requires adequate sums of money to develop, but most of all requires visionary investors, brave and informed enough to grasp the implications and reach of KiteGen.
Time of accomplishment is clearly a function of money invested and quality of collaboration. I obstinately insisted on promoting and executing all research work here in Italy where I created, during a lifetime of professional activity, a precious and friendly network of scientific and technical knowledge.
Original interview: ::Vecchi mulini addio, gli aquiloni sono l'eolico del futuro (Italian)