We have all heard the story of how Benjamin Franklin used a kite and a metal key to bring down lightning. The story may or may not be true, and certainly the fact that Ben survived this experiment suggests that he didn't actually get hit by lightning.
But could kites be used as a source of alternative energy? Recently scientists have begun to study ways of using kites to harness the power of the wind, and generate cheap electricity.
Several patents have been issued for inventions that propose to use kites to harness the wind to turn generators and produce electricty.
This invention was granted a patent for a system of generating electricty using kites. The patent application notes that this system would be cheaper and more efficient than traditional wind mills because it requires less material and also because winds tend to be stronger and more prevalent at higher elevations, which a kite can easily reach.
In this video Dutch scientists demonstrate how a kite can harness renewable wind energy.
As you can see from the video below, concepts for kite wind generators range from the simple to the gigantically complex. Below is a concept video that would place a giant kite on a hilltop.
Researchers at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands say that a series of tethered kites producing electricty could easily power 100,000 homes! Let's hope that this technology really takes off -- pardon the pun :)