Via Singularity Weblog, here's an unexpected approach to capturing and making use of wind energy:
Hardham has very high hopes for his wing technology. He believes that in ten years time, thousands of Makani wings could be flying above the U.S. coastline, replacing fossil fuels to power millions of homes with clean, sustainable energy.
This idea has a lot going for it. We know that winds are much stronger and more consistent at higher altitudes, but building a 400-meter (or taller) windmill is just not a practical idea. Here we allow the wind itself to empower a solution to that challenge. That's elegant.
There are unanswered questions about how "permanent" a kite can really be and how thousands of kites along the coastline would impact, our be integrated into, current flight patterns. But this is a very innovative and promising idea -- one that we can expected to see implemented (or at least some variation thereof) in the near future.