Floating Turbine Looks to Change Wind Energy

John Davis

altaeros1A new type of wind turbine that floats a couple of thousand feet above the ground could change the wind energy game. This article from EcoSeed says the Buoyant Air Turbine, or B.A.T., which uses a helium-filled shell and was designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology alums Ben Glass and Adam Rein in wind energy start-up Altaeros, could bring energy to off-grid areas.

Their B.A.T. uses a helium-filled shell – made of the same fabric used in blimps and sails – to hover around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground to capture the stronger, steadier winds available at that altitude.

The B.A.T. can produce double the energy of similarly sized tower-mounted turbines. This is because, at the altitude that the B.A.T. hovers, the winds blow five to eight times stronger than winds at tower level (roughly 100 to 300 feet).

According to Mr. Rein, the B.A.T. is not designed to replace conventional tower-mounted turbines but, it will be able to bring wind power to areas where tower-mounted turbines are not practical or economically feasible.

“It’s really about expanding wind energy to all those places in the fringes where it doesn’t really work today, and expanding the amount of wind power that’s able to be deployed globally,” said Mr. Rein.

The article also points out that the autonomous working system will eliminate the need for metal towers and concrete bases, which should please environmentalists working on the clean part of the energy angle.