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Clean Power airborne wind turbine wins penn state conoccophillips award

Published on October 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Airborne Wind Turbines Win Award

airborne wind turbine small

Tall, white wind turbines with long blades are not the only ones out there. People are working on wind turbines of all sorts to try to help solve our climate, energy, and environmental problems. Ben Glass, CEO of Altaeros Energies, and Adam Rein, co-founder of Altaeros Energies, are developing wind turbines that float up high with the rainbows, hundreds of feet above the ground. The turbines, called Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbines, can be deployed in 24 hours, and they just won the 2011 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize, awarded jointly by ConocoPhillips and Penn State.

The wind turbines are like “stationary blimps” and are able to take advantage of the consistent, high-speed winds that exist so high up in our blue skies. Hence, even despite their small size, they can each produce 100 kilowatts of clean, electrical power.

airborne wind turbines win award

“These floating wind turbines can be used in remote areas where they arrive in a box and, once inflated with helium, rise into the air, tethered by a conducting cable,” Penn State Live reports.

The small turbines can remain up in the air for months without replacing the helium.

“While initially the company plans to sell these elevated turbines for remote uses such as military applications, emergency power and other remote installations, eventually they will form the basis of offshore, deep-water wind farms floating high above the waves.”

Will they ever be competitive with tremendously cheap wind energy options available today? Hard to know at this point, but they clearly serve some niche locations and purposes.. and look pretty cool.

More on these small, airborne wind turbines or the runners-up for the 2011 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize is available on Penn State Live.

Images via Penn State Live

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • DD

    It’s great to see advances in wind turbine design. As we keep innovating, we’ll see improvements in efficiency.

  • Anonymous

    Pilots deal with no-fly zones.

  • Glen R

    >>>Hence, even despite their small size, they can each produce 100 kilowatts of clean, electrical power.

    Also does the aerodynamics stop it from spinning out, or how does it keep direction?

    • Anonymous

      yeah, kW. but look how small they are.

      not sure about the 2nd question.

      • Anonymous

        What’s shown in the pictures is a model, not a full sized one kW unit. I haven’t found any info on line about the actual size.

        These would be flown tethered, I would imagine a couple of lines would be used to control spin. Perhaps some counter-weighting as well.

        • Anonymous


  • Philaphonic

    Yet, the world is running out of helium.

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