Defence Forces Unveil Innovative Ship-Mounted Kite System at SeaFest

Smart technology, developed by Irish Defence Forces, SEAI, IMERC, Enterprise Ireland and CIT, to enhance ship efficiency and communications

Media Release, 11th July 2015:

Innovative kite technology which can use smart sensors developed by the Irish Defence Forces and partners, was demonstrated today to Mr Alex White TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources at SeaFest in Cork. The enormous power generating  kites (20m2), using state-of-the-art smart sensor technology, offer a sustainable solution to ship journeys by not only assisting speed, but also providing greatly improved visibility to aid navigation and security.

The project is supported by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and Enterprise Ireland, through its Commercialisation Fund Programme.  The ICT solution will assist the Irish Naval Service as the sensors are hoisted on large kites 300 metres above naval vessels, enhancing ship propulsion, generating energy and dramatically improving the surveillance range by up to 15 times. This will allow a vessel patrol a vast sea area without the necessity to cruise long distances, saving on fuel, manpower costs and emissions. Other applications for the technology exist in environmental monitoring, maritime forecasting and data transmission from ocean energy devices.

Partners in the project include the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC), Cork Institute of Technology (Nimbus and Halpin Centres), the Tyndall National Institute and University of Limerick.

Speaking at the demonstration of the technology at Seafest, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White T.D. said: “We have a strong ocean heritage in Ireland and it is good to see collaborations like this, which are enabling the development of new advanced ICT systems. This kite technology brings efficiencies to shipping transport and enables us to develop better intelligence about our oceans and new ocean energy technologies being deployed at sea. It is a good example of how Ireland is leading in maritime innovation.”

Rear Admiral Mark Mellett, Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) of the Defence Forces, also in attendance to see the demonstration said: "This collaboration highlights the Defence Forces' commitment to supporting Irish industry and education. Working through innovative arrangements such as the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster with UCC and CIT, we are delighted that the skills and expertise acquired by our personnel together with their creativity and innovation are being used to develop new sustainable technologies and promote Irish ingenuity."

Funding for the project was granted through SEAI’s Prototype Development Fund, whose Chief Executive, Dr. Brian Motherway, said: “This ground breaking collaboration combines our strength in clean energy and advanced technology to create something truly unique. It is a very exciting showcase for Ireland.”

The project management is being led by the Defence Forces, with the hardware integration and software development taking place at the Nimbus Centre at CIT. Commenting, Richard Linger, Head of the Nimbus Centre’s Industry division said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the wide range of partners on this exciting project which aligns with European energy goals as well as our policy of Innovation with social responsibility.’

The next stage of the project will see a move towards commercialisation of the product.



For further information:

Karen Ferris, Drury | Porter Novelli, 086 317 1248,

About the Project

The project has three strands namely: propulsion, power generation and sensor platform.

Previous work shows the kites are both practical and safe for launch, flight and recovery from coastal locations or seagoing vessels. This project will integrate the innovative sensors to be developed with a controllable parafoil kite to deliver a commercially attractive airborne maritime monitoring platform. So far, a data logger has been deployed on the L.E. Niamh INS vessel and a commercial feasibility study completed.

The hardware integration and software development support is taking place at the Nimbus Centre at CIT, Ireland’s largest dedicated ‘Internet of Things’ Centre. Business development, maritime mechatronics and maritime operations expertise is provided by the Halpin Centre for Research and Innovation at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI). NMCI is a constituent college of CIT in partnership with the Irish Naval Service.

About SEAI Prototype Fund-

Funding for the project was granted through SEAI’s Prototype Development Fund which aims to accelerate and enhance support for the research, development, testing and deployment of wave and tidal energy devices. The emphasis is on industry-led projects, and covers a broad scope, including the following indicative types of activities:

·         Projects to develop and test wave and tidal energy capture devices, systems and sites.

·         Independent monitoring of projects/technologies.

·         Industry-led R&D aimed at the integration of ocean energy into the electricity market and the national electricity grid.

·         Data monitoring, forecasting, communications and control of ocean energy systems.

·         Cross-cutting technologies that have a wide benefit to the ocean sector (eg Aeolus project)

The programme was launched in 2008 and to date in total the programme has supported 62 projects with grant support of €11 million

Of this, SEAI has supported 19 industry-led projects to utilise the UCC test facilities and research expertise.


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