An eolian energy company formed out of MIT has tested its high-altitude wind turbine that floats above in windy skies like a blimp. Altaeros Energies Airborne Wind Turbine measures 10m in width, and is filled up with helium. It was sent 100m up in the sky, where stronger winds are prevalent. This prototype was also able to lift the Southwest Skystream turbine up into the sky, where it was able to produce twice the power.
The aim is to send these airborne turbines 300m up into the sky, where there are even stronger winds. Altaeros hopes to provide a feasible alternative to diesel generators once this technology is scaled up.
The AWT was invented by Ben Glass, who is also Altaeros’ CEO. AWT provides a template allowing to easily harness the power of the winds, without too much cost and materials. The winds found in higher altitudes are more consistent and five times stronger than conventionally tower-mounted turbines. The lifting technology was adapted from aerostats, blimp-like structured developed to lift heavy communications and radar equipment. Aerostats are made to withstand hurricane-level winds.
Currently, the company is looking for partners to help commercialize their wind turbine. Co-founder Adam Rein stated that the biggest challenge was to create a wind turbine that could meet the needs of all potential customers.