The future of wind power

Massive wind turbines dominate the wind power industry, but entrepreneurs are now racing to build energy-making kites, sails and balloons. Here are five cutting-edge technologies.

1 of 5
A cargo ship that sails
A cargo ship that sails
Skysails, Hamburg

Tow, tow, tow your boat is the idea behind attaching giant paraglider-shaped kites to cargo ships. The Hamburg startup SkySails has designed these giant textile sails large enough to cover the floor area of a ballroom. On a test voyage from Germany to Venezuela to America and then back to Norway, the skysail cut a vessel's fuel use by $1,000 a day.

Founded: 2001

Technology: The automated kite launches from a ship's bow and sails to a height of 300 to 1,600 feet to help propel the vessel. Ranging in size from 1,700 to 3,400 square feet, the double-walled kites can be deployed on a range of oceangoing ships, from shipping trawlers to mega-yachts.

Energy production/savings: SkySails estimates that its kites can cut a ship's fuel consumption by 10% to 35% a year on average, with the cost of the system amortizing in three to five years. The kites also help cut greenhouse-gas emissions by reducing use of the ship's engines.

Stage of development: The first pilot systems are in operation onboard a pair of cargo ships.

Reality check: A slowing global economy could make sales to international shippers a challenge.
NEXT: A little wind
Last updated October 15 2008: 8:45 AM ET
More Galleries
5 biggest share buybacks of 2014 Stock repurchases are booming. These five companies are ready to spend over $79 billion on buybacks. More
10 horrifying corporate mascots McDonald's Happy is part of a long lineage of creatures great and small that shill for products and mortify consumers. Mr. Mucus, anyone? More
5 best cities to launch a career The top spots in the U.S. for new grads to land a job -- and actually enjoy life -- according to financial site WalletHub. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.