Google parent Alphabet is killing off its wind energy subsidiary, Makani, as the company continues to seek financial discipline for its so-called moonshot projects.
“Despite strong technical progress, the road to commercialization is longer and riskier than hoped, so from today Makani’s time at Alphabet is coming to an end,” the company’s CEO, Fort Felker, announced in a blog post Tuesday.
Makani was founded in 2006 by a group of kitesurfers who were curious about the potential for kites to unlock wind energy in more places around the globe. During a 13-year-long journey, the company created a new kind of wind power technology: energy kites.
Makani spent the past seven years at Alphabet, during which time our technology advanced from a 20kW demonstrator kite, to a utility-scale kite capable of generating 600kW. Last year, after leaving X to become an independent business, Makani's focus shifted to becoming commercially viable and with the support of Shell, they were able to demonstrate the first flights of a utility-scale energy kite system from a floating platform off the coast of Norway.
Felker added that this isn't the end of the road for the technology Makani developed, but it does mean that Makani will no longer be an Alphabet company. Shell is exploring options to continue developing Makani’s technology.
Alphabet delivered a "disappointing" earnings report, where the losses from its Other Bets swelled to $4.8 billion in 2019, up from $3.4 billion the year before. Along with Makani, that division includes other longer term efforts, like autonomous vehicle unit Waymo and healthcare company Verily.