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Floating Wind Turbines Could Provide Cheap Energy In Far-Flung Corners Of The World

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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/floating-wind-turbines-could-provide-cheap-energy-in-farflung-corners-of-the-world-9264587.html

A new sort of inflatable wind turbine that floats thousands of feet above the ground could be a powerful source of sustainable, low cost energy say engineers.

Altaeros Energies’ Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) may look like a novelty bouncy castle, but when launched into the air it becomes a floating turbine, held in a strong, helium inflated chassis and soaring twice as high as traditional fixed turbines.

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Unlike traditional wind turbines the BAT is not intended to provide power to major grids, instead it will offer a cheap alternative to traditional energy sources in remote parts of the world or in disaster relief scenarios. As well as turbines, the BAT can also hoist cellular equipment or meterological devices into the air.

This week it will face its first commercial test as it is tried out in a number of small Alaskan villages as an alternative to costly diesel generators.

Sounds like a great idea.

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One of the regular posters is bound to say "it don't match the p/kWh of Sizewell B so it's a waste of time!".

Just thought I'd get in my somewhat sarky comment before someone said it in all seriousness :)

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So long as your disaster happens in a place where it's windy, you're cooking with gas (or more correctly electricity).

Isn't that the point - it's windy everywhere at 5000 feet?

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in remote parts of the world or in disaster relief scenarios

Sounds like it is being pitched to governments, supra-governmental bodies and charities. Any organisation with tons of other peoples money who don't care too much about an economical return on investment. No doubt there will be some genuinely useful niche applications though.

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Isn't that the point - it's windy everywhere at 5000 feet?

Yes..

May even be less of a NIMBY factor. Plus I'd guess that you could float them over a city as well (health and safety notwithstanding).

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But isn't it very difficult to contain helium for long periods, so it needs constant top ups. And isn't this gas in terminal decline?

Why not use kites to hold it at that height? There is another design where the wind lifting a kite drives a pulley turbine on the ground, at a certain height the the angle of attack changes so it descends with gravity and starts the lift again.

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But isn't it very difficult to contain helium for long periods, so it needs constant top ups. And isn't this gas in terminal decline?

Why not use kites to hold it at that height? There is another design where the wind lifting a kite drives a pulley turbine on the ground, at a certain height the the angle of attack changes so it descends with gravity and starts the lift again.

I guess you need lighter-than-air lift because it may be windless low down.

They could always use hydrogen - what could go wrong? :D

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I guess you need lighter-than-air lift because it may be windless low down.

They could always use hydrogen - what could go wrong? :D

Absolutely nothing! Hydrogen is even smaller than helium, and much cheaper!

Obviously, do not take it up in a thunderstorm, wearing spiked metal helmets, like Kaiser Wilhelm did! :blink:

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Given the (modern) history of airships, in which they are constantly being touted as the next big thing but somehow never really working out commercially, I'll say this is never going to happen.

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