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Makani Power Harnesses the Wind for Maximum Clean Energy

The concept behind Alameda-based Makani Power is relatively simple: generate more wind-based energy at a lower cost. That's where the company's MW Airborne Wind Turbine, or AWT, comes in. The AWT operates on the same aerodynamic principles as a conventional wind turbine, harnessing energy from powerful winds that can then be used to power activity on land. But, says Makani CEO Corwin Hardham, the AWT is not a conventional wind turbine.

“We’re making a new kind of wind turbine,” said Hardham. “This is a new system that uses a tenth of the material but generates energy twice as often.” This is because the AWT emulates just the tip of a regular turbine blade, the part responsible for most of the energy generated. The Makani-designed wing, shaped like the wing of an airplane, captures all of the benefit of the blade tip using a fraction of the material. Makani's customers will be Independent Power Producers (IPPs), developers and utilities - the same customer base that currently buys and installs utility scale wind turbines.

Makani chose to locate the operation in the Control Tower at Alameda Point because the former Naval Air Station’s unique attributes closely fit the company’s needs. Hardham, a Stanford-educated chemical engineer who sometimes kite-surfs to work from his home in San Francisco, believes that Alameda is the perfect launch site for his and other innovative products. He highlights the large, unobstructed space, existing heavy industrial infrastructure, and port access as major advantages.

Hardham also points out that Alameda Point is the largest space of its kind between the two research institutions of Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley. Because of this ideal location, Hardham believes that Alameda “could be a national leader” in clean energy development.

After more than four years of research and design, Makani Power is moving into the first stages of product commercialization and working on utility-scale wings. It already has support from Google and the United States Department of Energy, and is currently looking for further investment to commercialize its larger-scale wings.

For more information about the company and its energy conversion technology, including detailed visual depictions of how it works, visit http://www.makanipower.com.


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