Winging it for Alternative Energy in California Cow Patches

By Rebecca Horne | March 30, 2010 2:16 pm

Makani Power is a San Francisco Bay Area based alternative energy start-up that seeks to provide renewable energy from high-altitude wind. In this compilation image, a computer-controlled, high-performance wing prototype is tethered to a flexible cable, attached here to a re-purposed aerial ladder truck. This test shows how the wing can access wind energy with a small footprint, and without the supporting material required by wind turbines.

Makani Power staff photographer Andrea Dunlap reflects: “I spend a lot of time sitting in fields waiting for the wind to be right for the engineers to fly things. Airtime can be anywhere from a minute to thirty hours. I love that we are sharing this testing space with so many other users of the land—farmers, cattle, birds, kite surfers and an entire energy infrastructure of traditional wind turbines and transmission lines. I go to each test site in eager anticipation of a day spent watching wind, clouds, sky and surf. As the sun sets and the wind dies down for the night we pack up and tuck our kites away until next time.”

Courtesy Andrea Dunlap/Makani Power


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About Rebecca Horne

Rebecca Horne ( is an artist, multi-platform freelance writer, and award-winning photography director. She launched Visual Science for in March 2010. She also writes about science and photography for The WallStreet Journal. You can reach her at


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