The next generation of wind power will come from high altitudes.
Founded in 2010 at MIT, Altaeros Energies is getting ready to launch the world’s first commercial airborne wind turbine designed to affordably harness the powerful energy of high-altitude wind.
The Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) is an inflatable helium-filled shell that can lift a lightweight turbine to 2,000 feet above the ground, where wind is about five to eight times more powerful than wind near the ground. According to the company, this high-altitude turbine also produces twice the amount of energy as an ordinary turbine.
It is an autonomous airborne platform that is anchored to a ground system with a conductive tether that sends energy back downward. An innovative flight control system eliminates the need for a ground crew and opens these aerostats—the industrial version of blimps—to more commercial uses.
Altaeros is working with the Alaska Energy Authority to launch the first BAT as a way to generate power to rural and isolated communities. With a high-altitude wind turbine, affordable wind energy can be delivered to off-grid communities or for power generation during disaster relief. It can also serve as a platform for Internet, phone service, weather monitoring and more.