Quantcast

The Turbine That Could Transform Wind Energy by Flying the Highest

Business

At first glance, you might mistake the potential future of wind energy as a blimp—the type of added effect perfect for flying over a carnival or football game.

Instead, the BAT—Buoyant Airborne Turbine—is a wind turbine inside of an inflatable, helium shell capable rising 1,000 feet above ground. Altaeros Energies, a firm housed at small business incubator Greentown Labs near Boston, MA, is deploying the BAT as part of an 18-month, $1.3 million project in Alaska as the first-ever commercial, high-altitude wind turbine demonstration project.

The 1,000-foot height would also qualify as a record for the tallest wind turbine. At that height, the BAT would be about 275 feet taller than the current record holder for the highest wind turbine, the Vestas V164-8.0-MW, which was installed as a prototype at the Danish National Test Center for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild, Denmark. Last year, Altaeros successfully tested a BAT prototype in 45 mile-per-hour winds,  500 feet above its test site in Maine.

Altaeros CEO Ben Glass says the BAT represents a breakthrough in wind energy when compared to what he views as "incremental" improvements in the industry's technology. That's partly because it makes use of strong winds at heights that promise to generate more energy than the average turbine. The device's tethers are designed to hold the BAT steady and send electricity to the ground.

"The reason high-altitude wind is so exciting and worth going after is really very simple—there's just a lot more of it," Glass said in a video interview. "Winds 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground are, on average, five to eight times as powerful as what you get nearer to the ground."

Altaeros is targeting off-grid areas, including island communities and disaster relief zones. The demonstration project is funded through a partnership with the Alaska Energy Authority and private investment from Ratan Tata. Additional funding comes from the National Science Foundation, the California Energy Commission, and the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize.

The company says the BAT can be transported and set up without large cranes, towers or underground foundations.

Glass formed Altaeros with Adam Rein, a Greentown Labs board member, a few years ago while the two studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

———

Related Content:

Incubator Expands Opportunities for Entrepreneurs Creating Game-Changing Energy Technologies

Wind Energy’s Rise: The Numbers Behind a Milestone-Setting Year

World’s Most Powerful Wind Turbine Swings Into Gear

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less