Conventional wind turbines, which are based on land and are mounted on top of tall masts, are probably the most recognizable form of wind energy harvesting devices, and wind farms are already a viable method of producing clean renewable energy. But tower-mounted wind turbines do have a few limitations, as winds nearer to the ground can sometimes be inconsistent, with slow or gusty wind conditions affecting the power output from them.
And while ground-based wind turbines remain a practical system for generating clean electricity, the future of low cost wind power for remote areas might be found in high altitude wind turbines (HAWTs), which are deployed high above the Earth, where they can take advantage of stronger and more consistent winds.
We previously covered the prototype of Altaeros Energies inflatable Airborne Wind Turbine, which was claimed to be able to produce double the power at half the cost of wind turbines mounted at conventional tower heights, but the company has just announced their plans to deploy the next generation of the device at a height of 1000 feet off the ground.
The new version of their high altitude turbine is called the Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT), and when deployed at the end of the 18 month demonstration project, this device is expected to break the world's record for the highest wind turbine, beating the current record set by a Vestas V164-8.0-MW installed at the Danish National Test Center for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild.
"Altaeros has designed the BAT to generate consistent, low cost energy for the remote power and microgrid market, including remote and island communities; oil & gas, mining, agriculture, and telecommunication firms; disaster relief organizations; and military bases. The BAT uses a helium-filled, inflatable shell to lift to high altitudes where winds are stronger and more consistent than those reached by traditional tower-mounted turbines. High strength tethers hold the BAT steady and send electricity down to the ground. " - Altaeros
Because this high altitude airborne wind turbine can be transported and setup without requiring the use of large cranes or towers, or the construction of an underground foundation, it could be a great cost-effective candidate for meeting the power needs of remote communities or for use as a way to generate electricity for disaster relief efforts.
The BAT project, which is financed in part by the Alaska Energy Authority’s Emerging Energy Technology Fund, will be the first long-term airborne wind turbine demonstration, and is planned to be deployed at a site south of Fairbanks, Alaska.