The problem with traditional wind turbines is that they aren’t tall enough to reach the stron winds found over 1000 feet above the ground. To remedy that, Makani Power has created a flying wind turbine called the “Wing 7 Aeronautic Power Plant” that can reach heights of 1,500 feet! Spanning eight meters, weighing 130 pounds, and tethered to the ground, the wind turbine can generate 20 kW of energy from 22mph winds.
High-flying turbines have been theorized before, but past versions were based on kites (such as the Selsam superturbine) rather than using rotors. Wing 7 is able to maintain its height by drawing power from the tether to drive its rotors. WIth the help of its tail wing it flies in crosswind circles, and to return the Earth the craft simply straightens its wings and is winched back down.
The current Wing 7 generates energy in two ways – with a conventional turbine, and its wings also function like turbine blades. It is this innovation that allows Wing 7 to generate almost double the energy that normal turbines do. The current model is expected to arrive on the market by 2015, and it is almost certain that Makani will make improvements and continue to develop this unique system.