A Blimp with a Mission: Helium-filled Wind Turbine to Take Float in Alaska

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology-founded firm Altaeros Energies is eyeing 1,000 feet — that’s about 275 feet taller than the current record holder for tallest wind turbine, the Vestas V164-8.0-MW prototype in Østerild, Denmark. A difference of under 300 feet might not seem like all that big of deal but keep in mind that the higher the altitude, the significantly stronger and more consistent the winds. Elaborates the team at Altaeros Energies team:
High altitude winds are more consistent and average around twice the velocity, with five to eight times the power density, than those found near ground-level. In the U.S. alone, over 60% of potential wind sites for tower-mounted systems were found to be uneconomical.Capable of generating twice as much energy as traditional tower-mounted wind turbines that cap off at several hundred feet (the blades of the Vestas V164-8.0-MW stretch to 720-feet-high), the Altaeros Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) is anything but traditional as you can probably gather. Composed of a lightweight, horizontal-axis turbine fitted within an inflatable, helium-filled shell that can be rapidly deployed (ground station included) via shipping container to remote and disaster-stricken areas minus logistical headaches and any sort of costly environmental impact, this floating power plant is anchored by high-strength tethers that not only safely moor the unit but also send power back down to the ground station where it’s conditioned.

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