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Development company plans to launch energy kite near Waimea

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HILO >> A Google-owned development company hopes to test a massive energy kite near Waimea next year.

R&D company Makani hopes the device will be up to 50 percent more efficient at generating electricity than a conventional wind turbine, according to West Hawaii Today.

“We’re waiting for a determination of no hazard from the FAA,” Makani project manager Alden Woodrow said. “We have to go through the same regulatory process that a wind turbine goes through.”

Woodrow said the 85-foot airfoil equipped with eight wind generation rotors that would be launched and controlled from a 50-foot tower.

“Our goal is to demonstrate safe and reliable operation,” Woodrow said.

The device flies at the end of a tether in a motion that is supposed to mimic the most energy efficient part of a conventional wind turbine blade without the need for a massive windmill.

The device is currently being built in Alameda California but Makani plans to work with local groups on the Big Island after receiving clearance.

Hawaii’s powerful wind, open land, high energy costs and drive for renewable energy sources make the island an attractive test site, said Woodrow. He said the Big Island test is about “building roots in a place where we have the potential to have an impact long-term.”

The company tested smaller energy kites on Maui in 2008. The prototypes were similar to kite surfing kites.

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