Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The Turbine That Could Transform Wind Energy by Flying the Highest

Business
The Turbine That Could Transform Wind Energy by Flying the Highest

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

Air France airplanes parked at the Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport on March 24, 2020. SAMSON / AFP via Getty Images

France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A woman looks at a dead gray whale on the beach in the SF Bay area on May 23, 2019; a new spate of gray whales have been turning up dead near San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four gray whales have washed up dead near San Francisco within nine days, and at least one cause of death has been attributed to a ship strike.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A small tourist town has borne the brunt of a cyclone which swept across the West Australian coast. ABC News (Australia) / YouTube

Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed into the Western Australian town of Kalbarri Sunday as a Category 3 storm before grinding a more-than 600-mile path across the country's Southwest.

Read More Show Less
A general view shows the remains of a dam along a river in Tapovan, India, on February 10, 2021, following a flash flood caused by a glacier break on February 7. Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images

By Rishika Pardikar

Search operations are still underway to find those declared missing following the Uttarakhand disaster on 7 February 2021.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous youth, organizers with the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipeline fights and climate activists march to the White House to protest against pipeline projects on April 1, 2021. Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Indigenous leaders and climate campaigners on Friday blasted President Joe Biden's refusal to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline during a court-ordered environmental review, which critics framed as a betrayal of his campaign promises to improve tribal relations and transition the country to clean energy.

Read More Show Less