Wind, water, solar are common sources of renewable energy, but what about the clouds? Can cloud power provide our clean energy and water needs? A Russian scientist is aiming to do just that with the Air HES (Hydro Electric Station) — a tethered blimp that captures water from the clouds with a mesh that hangs vertically in the air and sends water to a hydropower plant on the ground via conduit attachments. A turbo generator then produces clean water and electricity. Andrew Kazantsev and his St. Petersburg-based team have built a prototype that captures around five liters (one gallon) of water from low-level clouds in about an hour.
The group recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the full scale design. Their mission is to provide clean drinking water and electricity to impoverished parts of the world. Their website also mentions that by 2050 a global water crisis is expected and that water from the clouds can potentially help meet the increase in demand.
Air HES claims that cloud power is superior to traditional hydropower because it doesn’t require the construction of expensive dams that harm the environment and are located in remote areas far from population centers. Traditional hydro also isn’t as efficient as cloud power with much more potential energy losses. Their website claims that “a river powered hydro station is 200 times less effective than power from cloud precipitation.”
In his initial research, Kazantsev discovered that cloud power was first pursued by inventor Nikola Tesla in 1915. Tesla wrote in his book “The Wonder World to be Created by Electricity” that “the inevitable conclusion is that water-power is by far our most valuable resource. On this humanity must build its hopes for the future. With its full development and a perfect system of wireless transmission of the energy to any distance man will be able to solve all the problems of material existence. Distance, which is the chief impediment to human progress, will be completely annihilated in thought, word and action. Humanity will be united, wars will be made impossible and peace will reign supreme.”
Via Air HES
Images via Air HES