Altaeros Energies has completed testing a 35-foot scale prototype for the Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) at the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone, Maine. In the testing phase AWT climbed up 350 feet high, produced power at altitude, and landed in an automated cycle. The AWT uses a helium-filled, inflatable shell to ascend to higher altitudes where winds are more consistent and over five times stronger than those reached by traditional tower-mounted turbines. Strong tethers hold the AWT steady and send electricity down to the ground.
The prototype lifted the top-selling Southwest Skystream turbine to produce over twice the power at high altitude than generated at conventional tower height. The Altaeros AWT will displace expensive fuel used to power diesel generators at remote industrial, military, and village sites. In the long term, Altaeros plans to scale up the technology to reduce costs in the offshore wind market. Now all they need is wind turbines that learn like humans.