Friday, March 28, 2014

Wind turbines are getting cheaper, taller, and now... Floating!

Wind power is growing, and the generation opportunities exist even in places where there's not a lot of wind. The New Your Times reports a start-up called Altaeros Energies is preparing to introduce its first commercial pilot of an airborne wind turbine in Alaska. Known as the BAT — or Buoyant Airborne Turbine — the enormous, white helium-filled doughnut surrounding a rotor will float about 1,000 feet in the air and feed enough electricity to power more than a dozen homes through one of the cables tethering it to the ground.

Take a look at the picture. This is a floating, helium-filled wind turbine! Since the wind is always stronger the higher up you go, wind power is becoming possible even in places like the southeast where traditional wind power (fixed towers) is not feasible. 

Are there potential problems? Let's think. Low flying airplanes, for one. How about the ability to withstand storms, or even hurricanes? And then there's safety. Will this thing remain tethered or float away? How about target practice? Do you think a hunter or two might be interested in seeing if they can get a bullet to reach the floating windmill?

We shouldn't poo-poo this start-up. We should celebrate the innovation and look forward to watching its first application. Just make sure you fly above 1,000 feet. 

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