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Swiss start-up generates electricity from wind power

Switzerland produces less wind power than other European countries but has ambitious future targets. A Lugano start-up is developing drones to generate electricity from high-altitude winds.

Winds, especially at high altitude, offer huge potential as an alternative renewable energy source to help solve the climate crisis. 

In Switzerland, the main source of energy is hydropower. Building large wind turbines, especially in Swiss valleys, is controversial.

Aldo Cattano and Nicola Mona, the inventor and chief executive officer of the start-up firm "Skypull", want to contribute towards finding cleaner energy sources by making best use of the winds on Switzerland’s mountain tops. 

The small Lugano-based team is developing a system using an autonomous drone connected by a tether linked to a generator on the ground that can generate electricity from high-altitude winds. 

Their drone can fly as high as 600metres, about three times the height of a traditional wind turbine. The prototype is a rigid-wing, multi-copter "box-wing" drone that can take off and land by itself, with no need for a launcher or ground wind. 

Their plan is to develop a drone with a 17-metre wingspan which could produce electricity for 1,000-1,100 households. However, their project could take another three to four years to realise. 

In 2018, wind power only produced enough energy for 36,500 households in Switzerland – 0.2% of the country’s total power consumption. But the government has set out ambitious energy targets. By 2050, it wants 7-10% of Swiss energy consumption to be covered by wind power.

--- is the international branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to report on Switzerland and to provide a Swiss perspective on international events.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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