Lidija Grozdanic

World’s First Airborne Wind Turbine to Bring Renewable Energy and WiFi to Alaska

by , 03/25/14

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Wind turbines have become airborne! An enormous helium-filled wind turbine will soon float over the city of Fairbanks, Alaska to produce enough electricity for more than a dozen families living off the grid. Designed and built by MIT startup Altaeros Energies, the turbine known as BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine will hover at an altitude of 1,000 feet for 18 months, catching air currents that are five to eight times more powerful than winds on the ground.

Large wind farms floating over major cities may seem like something from a sci-fi movie, but the concept of airborne wind turbines is close to becoming reality. Altaeros has already built the world’s highest turbine that can generate twice the energy output of its ground-based counterpart. Besides generating power, these floating power plants can provide data coverage, cell service and local weather data and can be deployed in harsh weather conditions.

Related:Altaeros Energies’ Floating Wind Turbines Tap Into Strong High Altitude Winds

The helium-filled turbine will be installed over the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, and will feed energy into the grid through cables that will connect it to the ground. The team is planning to further develop the project and initially target remote areas, disaster-stricken regions and military bases.

Several other companies have tried to develop airborne wind systems, including Makani Power, whose design for a winged turbine was acquired by Google last year. However, the project is still under development. Despite the high expenses, the Buoyant Airborne Turbine will tackle the issue of high energy costs in regions such as Alaska. The Alaska Energy Authority has awarded Altaeros a $1.3 million grant to test the design over the course of 18 months.

+ Altaeros Energies

Via Dvice, Gigaom, The New York Times

Images via Altaeros Facebook Page

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4 Comments

  1. Ruth McVeigh April 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Can this be used to help the 1st Nations communities in the far north of Canada?

  2. fcfcfc March 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Hi: You should keep in mind that this is a small turbine and should not be compared to commercial wind turbines. The sweep area of that turbine is only 12 feet, and even with a custom gen on it, I cannot believe they can get more than 10KW out of it. Being up at 1000 feet though, the peak power should pretty much be constant. For remote houses that are off grid already and in that climate and environment, 100 to 200KWH a day should take them pretty far….

    …..Bill

  3. oldcrow35 March 29, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Perhaps these are an answer to the killing of eagles, etc. by ground based wind mills??? There needs to be an answer for this problem!

  4. Guido Vandendorpe March 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    One of the problems,I see here,it’s that you have to generate high Voltage as to avoid to use a heavy transfer cable fron the generator to the ground and than the necessity to have transformators or rectifiers to generate usable voltage in the homes.In any case for remote places where you need electricity,it’s a goood idea.Up till how fast can the speed of air be? before the system collapse?Regards Guido

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