Airborne Wind Turbines Win Award

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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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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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