Is it a bird? Is it a plane? World’s First Airborne Wind Turbine

By Elizabeth Plascencia

Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) by Altaeros Energies
Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) by Altaeros Energies

                Last semester I was enrolled in ERSC 202: Energy Resources with Professor of Natural Philosophy, Marcus Key. Our primary learning objectives revolved around understanding the physics, chemistry, and geology of energy resources. We also reviewed some of the major economic, political, and environmental implications within the exploration and exploitation of certain energy resources. I felt extremely well informed once I had a better grasp on the physical earth systems that created the natural resources. The common jargon of “fossil fuel” suddenly made all the sense in the world. This course sparked my interest in alternative or “green” energy resources ever since.

                 Our course final project was to present an oral PowerPoint presentation to inform our peers on an energy resource of choice. My colleagues presented on a vast range of alternative energies including solar, wind, hydrothermal, geothermal, biomass, etc. I decided to explore geothermal energy in Iceland, because I spent the beginning of my first summer after freshmen year in Iceland with Professor of Earth Sciences, Benjamin Edwards, conducting pillow-lava research. Nearly two years later, I am still obsessed with Iceland. As an active climate change activist, it was incredibly moving to see alternative energy as a major resource in a nation. For more information on geothermal energy in Iceland, check out this link:

                Now with that background in mind, I was so excited to find this article on the first airborne wind turbine in the world. It is projected to harness renewable wind energy and Wi-Fi to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is so great to see an initiative like this take off because a colleague in my ERSC 202: Energy Resources course actually did her final presentation on this MIT startup, Altaeros Energies. At the time there were only prototypes but now this airborne wind turbine is expected to launch sometime next year!

Progress is key.

Click here to check out the article:

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4 Replies to “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? World’s First Airborne Wind Turbine”

  1. I am a big fan of anything passive solar or wind generated. Love this concept because the usual problem with wind turbines is that you have to attach them to something land based. We are in a valley, where the wind is about 200 feet above us, and lots of it so this would be perfect! Great invention!

    1. Mia – Thank you for your comment. I too am a huge fan of wind generated renewable energies. I live in Los Angeles, California and I love visiting the wind farms just south of us in Palm Springs, California. I agree — often there are negative drawbacks to traditional renewable energies but I find that with a little bit of imagination and research, we can create incredible results (i.e. airborne wind turbines). I found this link on Discovery News that I think you may find interesting:

  2. Wow this is amazing! I have never heard about this before, but it makes so much sense! This seems to be a very effective form of renewable energy with some incredible implications for how it can be used. I have often heard people complain about the effect wind farms have on bird populations (even though the National Audubon Society has come out as supporters of it), and this seems to fix that drawback. It also seems like a good solution for the issue in China, that we just learned about today, of difficultly connecting the wind energy in Northern China to where it is most needed within the nation.

    1. Cora – Isn’t this SO COOL? Renewable energies in general have always sparked my interest. Especially that sea spray mechanism that McCracken spoke about during our DC trip! I think that we as humans have the potential to create incredible technology that can aid us in mitigation and adapting to climate change. I think It’s just a question about research and development (R&D). Fingers crossed though.

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