The turbine is designed for remote villages or industrial sites where there isn't grid power and for places such as military outposts that need to rely on diesel generators.
With the machine high in the air, the small wind turbine inside the helium-filled blimp generates twice the power as pole-mounted turbines, the company said. That's because winds are stronger and steadier at higher altitudes. This turbine was tested at 350 feet up.
Having done its prototype, the company is currently designing a commercial system, which would be larger and have a more powerful turbine, according to Adam Rein at Altaeros Energies. The cost of power from the airborne wind turbine is more expensive than power from the grid, but one third the cost of power from diesel generators, he said. The company is also working on a larger, utility-scale turbine for offshore wind.
A demonstration of the 35-foot-wide Airborne Wind Turbine in Limestone, Maine by Altaeros Energies, a wind energy company formed out of MIT. The prototype was tested up to 350 feet high, produced over twice the power of traditional wind turbines, and was fully automated. The AWT uses a helium-filled, inflatable shell to ascend to higher altitudes where winds are more consistent and over five times stronger than those reached by traditional tower-mounted turbines. The lifting technology is adapted from aerostats, industrial cousins of passenger blimps that for decades have lifted heavy communications and radar equipment into the air for long periods of time. Altaeros is developing its first product to reduce energy costs by up to 65 percent by displacing expensive fuel used to power diesel generators at remote industrial, military, and village sites