The current generation of wind power relies on rigid support structures and is limited to altitudes up to 200 m. Wind at higher altitudes is significantly stronger and more persistent. To access this major potential of renewable energy, the Kite Power research group, and since 2016 also its commercial spin-off Kitepower B.V., are developing a technology based on inflatable membrane wings which are tethered to a motor/generator unit on the ground. The first 20 kW demonstrator system operates kites of 14, 25 or 50 m2 surface area in periodic pumping mode to generate mechanical reel-out power. Systematic testing and improvement has resulted in more than 160 completed pumping cycles since January 2010, indicating a continuous increase in cycle efficiency. A 100kW prototype is now being developed by the start-up for commercial application.

Supporting research is addressing scientific challenges such as automatic flight control, structural dynamics and aerodynamics of tethered inflatable membrane wings. This includes development of physical mode ls ranging from fast, real-time capable point mass or rigid body models up to accurate analysis tools based on Multi-Body or Finite Element discretisations. A second focal area is the design of efficient motor/generator units. Research in kite power generation was initiated by Wubbo Ockels in 1993, followed by a patent application for the Laddermill technology in 1997. The research group was established in 2005 and currently comprises 2 staff members, 3 PhD researcher, 2 Researchers, and several MSc students. The technology is also subject of a dedicated MSc-level course "Airborne Wind Energy" at the Delft University of Technology.