Challenge

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The next generation of wind power

There is tremendous potential for power generation in the winds that whip across our planet every day, but wind turbines are not tall enough to take advantage of high-altitude winds, which are up to eight times more powerful than the lower level winds they have access to. Tapping into that higher altitude wind could get the US onto a greener path of power.
300M
People Impacted
$ 278B
Potential Funding
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the problem
Nature and Context

In the US alone, over 60% of potential wind sites for tower-mounted systems have been deemed uneconomical. In addition, wind farms are often criticized for being noisy, unsightly and dangerous to birds. Alternative ways of harnessing wind power are crucial to a green future for the US and more importantly the world.

ideas
Ideas Description

Altaeros Energies has the answer in the Buoyant Airborne Turbine, or BAT. The BAT is a wind turbine that floats at 600 metres – more than twice the height of the highest wind turbine. The lightweight three-blade turbine sits in an inflatable helium-filled shell, and the main body of the BAT is tethered to a portable ground station which can be quickly deployed from a shipping container and transported on the back of a trailer. The ground station includes an autonomous control system and power conditioning equipment.

Founded by four graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010, Altaeros Energies won the 2011 ConocoPhillips Energy prize and has since secured the backing of the US Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation among others.

On top of its commercial applications as a power generator, the BAT could be used as a communications tool for internet and telephone transmissions, and for weather monitoring. The BAT could also be very useful in times of crisis – when traditional energy supplies are levelled by disaster, the BAT could provide emergency power quickly. The BAT is currently being tested in Alaska, and Altaeros hopes to be bringing the technology to other isolated areas soon.

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