KITE Power Systems, which generates electricity from flying kites, has declared it will have a commercially viable solution within five years, which can be deployed in the developing world and in remote areas without grid access.

The business is in a race-to-market with a Californian business owned by Google parent Alphabet.

The firm has been backed with

£5 million of investment from Shell, E.ON and Schlumberger. And recently appointed chief executive Simon Heyes has revealed the company will be seeking further funding, with a second major round planned for around 2020.

Mr Heyes said the technology has “great potential” in both the UK and the developing world.

“We get a lot of calls from developing nations, and the likes of mining companies where they have no grid access, and move locations within a region. The idea of this being portable appeals to them.”

In December 2016, KPS opened a test site on a Ministry of Defence range near Stranraer, while its management and design engineering team is based in Glasgow.

There are now more than 30 staff at the business, with recruitment ongoing for more engineers.

“There is pressure to make the cost of renewables as low as possible, and possible to generate without support mechanism, so one has to look at new methods of generation,” he said.

The technology tethers kites to a winch system which generates electricity as it spools out, and flies kites in sequence. Kite power requires lower capital expenditure than conventional offshore turbines, as it doesn’t require the installation of turbines and their foundations.

The ultimate goal for the business is to create a three megawatt device, which is similar in capacity to previous generation off-shore wind turbines. “To get to that 3MW offshore device is a very big challenge,” he said. “It is not impossible but I’m focused more on the medium horizon, a 500 kilowatt device which works onshore, and finding that right market for that.”

A prototype has already been tested at the Stranraer base and the next step is to create a beta device and deploy up to five in an array to “get hours on the clock, prove reliability and then have a product available commercially”.

That, said Mr Heyes, should happen in 2022. To get there, KPS will require further funding. Mr Heyes is currently in discussions with current investors on a mezzanine funding round to see the company through until 2019.

“After that it is inevitable that we’ll have a second major funding round and might have new partners in that,” he said.

Globally, around 15 companies are pursuing kite power, some of which are university-backed and are not seeking commercial deployment. Of the serious competitors, the biggest is Makani, which is backed by Alphabet.

“We do look at each other but not constantly,” said Mr Heyes. “I suspect we are all at a similar place, in terms of getting small scale devices to demonstrate the concept. None of us have quite got a midscale device into the air.”

A kite is currently being constructed

and will be in the air by next summer, said Mr Heyes.