We might be seeing wind turbines in the skies instead of fields soon. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology startup has come up with a new type of floating turbine that’s more efficient — and can deliver power and WiFi connectivity to remote areas.
The invention could have a major impact in places like Alaska, with vast swaths of land that are off the grid, and without traditional sources of power and internet access.
The startup, Altaeros Energies, developed the BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine, which is filled with helium and can rise to 1,000 to 2,000 feet to generate power from strong, high-altitude winds. Because the turbines can access these high-altitude winds, they generate roughly double the energy of standard turbines.
In addition to generating lower-cost energy for remote areas, the turbines could serve as sources of internet connectivity and cellphone service. They’ll also be able to provide weather data to communities.
The flying turbine transfers the energy through cables that tether it to the ground. This is what it looks like in action:
Altaeros hopes to deploy the new turbines near remote Alaska villages that are off the grid, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The company received a $1.3 million grant from the Alaska Energy Authority to test the turbine there.
Residents in these rural areas pay a high price for energy, and Altaeros could disrupt the $17 billion remote power and microgrid market.
Check out the video from Altaeros: