Alphabet’s Makani energy kite gets go-ahead as an independent company
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Alphabet’s Makani energy kite gets go-ahead as an independent company

Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google, might be more ‘investor-friendly’ (by which we mean more financially transparent and less willing to haemorrhage cash on crazy schemes) but there’s still a little of the ‘old Google’ in there somewhere. That innovative spirit is now far better managed, and mad-scientist types no longer have bottomless budgets, but they’re still an indispensable part of Alphabet’s DNA. One of the areas on which they’ve been let loose is new, clean, energy creation – now, one of those ‘moonshot’ projects has graduated and will become an Alphabet company in its own right: Makani.

Alphabet’s share price has appreciated by 9% year to date

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Source: Yahoo Finance

Makani, which comes out of Google’s X Moonshot Factory, will be partnering with fossil-fuel big boy Shell to “expand to offshore environments” and ultimately become an independent Alphabet company. What is Makani? It’s a new take on wind-based energy: giant gliders that are tethered to ground stations fly autonomously in loops. It’s a turbine-free way to generate clean energy at a utility scale. The actual energy is generated by 4 propellers on each vehicle. So far, the ground stations have been on-land buildings – but with Shell’s help, Makani will start flying around stations out at sea.

There are a number of practical benefits to Makani’s tech, which include ease of use. Gliders are 90% lighter than turbines, meaning they can be stationed around “a small spar buoy moored with a synthetic line and gravity anchor”. In other words, they’re simply easier to use in a range of environments. A press release from Alphabet and Shell read:

“Hundreds of millions of people live within 25 miles of a coastline where winds are strong and steady, but two-thirds of coastal waters globally are too deep for today’s wind technology to economically access these resources. This is where we think Makani can help. We plan to kick off testing of this new floating offshore system with demonstrations in Norway later this year, and we’re developing additional partnerships to help us bring Makani’s commercial system to life.”

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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