While wind turbines are certainly effective at producing energy, some think they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing structure to dot our open country-sides. But that’s no reason to write them off. In fact, Altaeros Energy has come up with a fascinating solution to this little problem: a donut-shaped wind-power structure fitted in a helium-filled balloon and suspended 2,000 feet in the air.
Better yet, it turns out that the Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine is not just less of an eyesore—it’s more energy efficient than traditional turbines as well. Wind speeds closer to the ground can vary drastically, which means the energy they generate isn’t always consistent. However, the wind speeds higher up in the air tend to remain the same. Each wind turbine is expected to generate 2 megawatts of energy.
In addition, Altaeros Energy estimates that the turbines will cost 60-65% cheaper than other wind generators and diesel generators. What’s more, the systems can be up and running in a day or two, and could solve many of the issues developing countries are facing with high electricity costs. There is also potential on military sites where soldiers have lost lives in fuel convoys.
Despite the upside to airborne wind turbines, there are a few challenges keeping them grounded. For one, only small prototypes currently exist. There are also concerns that once built, the wind turbines won’t be able to withstand harsh and unpredictable weather, e.g. extremely strong winds, ice storms, and the like.
If Altaeros Energy is able to come up with viable solutions to current issues and create a working model, the wind turbine future could look quite promising.
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