Eco Innovation

Kitemill drives wind energy expansion following acquisition

21st June 2023
Harry Fowle

Kitemill is continuing its rapid expansion in the Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) sector after acquiring Exact Aircraft.

It marks the third business acquisition after Kitemill secured all assets and IP from Scottish Kite Power System in 2020, before merging with Dutch operation eKite the following year.

Kitemill CEO Thomas Hårklau said AWE technology presents a unique opportunity to significantly impact the future energy transition by unlocking as yet untapped high-capacity wind energy up to half a mile above the ground.

Studies have revealed that AWE could be delivered at half the cost of conventional wind turbines while generating three times the energy yield. At the utility scale, the AWE market has the potential to reach $100bn (€92.39bn) by 2035–40, according to a recent white paper by BVG Associates on behalf of Airborne Wind Europe.

Kitemill’s latest acquisition comes shortly after it attracted Norwegian utility firm Voss Energi as the lead investor for its new crowdfunding campaign. The funding round (which can be accessed here) will support the completion of Kitemill’s world-first AWE demonstration park, located in Norway, where it plans to deploy up to five 20kW prototype systems.

“This is another major milestone for Kitemill and an important development in our strategic growth plan,” said Mr Hårklau. “AWE technology holds immense potential. However, in order to accelerate commercialisation, and ensure the greatest advances in the least amount of time, we must unite with other world-class operators to pool knowledge, resources and assets. Exact Aircraft has an exceptional reputation in the kite-building industry. The merger will enable us to deliver even greater value to our customers through more efficient operating methods, enhanced manufacturing capability, an expanded product range and a more robust supply chain. It further demonstrates our commitment to innovation and firm ambition to push the boundaries at the vanguard of the AWE industry.”

Exact Aircraft will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Kitemill with all employment transferred to Kitemill, strengthening the collaboration between the two units. The acquisition includes Exact Aircraft’s business unit, supplier contracts, tools, equipment and valuable intellectual property rights. Already incorporated within Kitemill, Exact Aircraft extends its expertise to the supply and assembly of Kitemill's KM1 kites.

Exact Aircraft former owner Trond Hammerstad said: “It’s a tremendously exciting time to be joining forces with Kitemill which has a number of key competitive advantages, including one of the most experienced and versatile teams in the AWE industry. Kitemill’s technology is also highly advanced, with automated capabilities which are crucial for future commercial adoption. In addition, Kitemill has access to the world’s first formally approved test site for AWE, which will accelerate our learning trajectory.

We are now looking forward to combining respective expertise and resource to drive innovation, expand our reach, and deliver superior products to the market.”

Earlier in 2023, Kitemill extended its flight endurance record - covering more than 500km and five hours of continuous operation. It later surpassed 500 test flights with its KM1 pilot system. The company’s technology has also secured third-party verification from Everoze and DNV, with momentum being matched politically as Norway introduced airborne wind energy in the national energy research strategy.

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