Well, not quite the BAT you might be thinking of but this one does fly. This BAT stands for Buoyant Airborne Turbine. Yes, we are talking about a flying wind turbine. Clean energy entrepreneurs are racing towards this concept and making great progress. MIT startup, Altaeros Energies, was given a $1.3 million grant by the Alaska Energy Authority to test the design. They are aiming to break the world record with the helium filled Alaska High Altitude Wind Turbine.
The reason this solution is attractive is due to the additional power given by placing the wind turbine in a higher altitude. The higher you go the greater the wind force. At higher elevations such as 20,000 and 30,000 feet you enter what they call a “jet stream“. The potential supply of energy is said to be up to eight times greater. According to the article, Global Assessment of High-Altitude Wind Power, published in the open access journal Energies, the total wind energy in the jet stream is “roughly 100 times the global energy demand.” They utilized 27 years of data assessing wind strength at altitudes between 500 and 12,000 meters. Of course winds are not always consistent and vary seasonally. However, in it’s conclusion it states that “Climate model simulations for highly idealized high-altitude wind power scenarios show little effect on the climate when deployed at levels comparable to total global electricity demand, but, with much greeter deployment, the Earth’s surface cooled, precipitation decreased, and sea ice cover increased.”
A nice little perk to mention is that they also deliver wi-fi remote access. This technology is only in very early prototype phases so it will be interesting to see how it progresses. Progress and creativity are pushing on. Are we going to have these things floating all over our skies? What are you thoughts on it?