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Airborne Wind Turbine Cuts Noise & Energy Costs
5/9/2012

Altaeros Energies recently completed tests of a 35-ft scale prototype of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) for remote locations, which will harness energy at altitudes above 1,000 feet.
  (Source: Altaeros Energies)
Altaeros Energies recently completed tests of a 35-ft scale prototype of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) for remote locations, which will harness energy at altitudes above 1,000 feet.
(Source: Altaeros Energies)

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Rob Spiegel
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Does it need a babysitter?
Rob Spiegel   5/9/2012 2:50:00 PM
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This is very impressive, Ann. Do you know if it needs a babysitter on the ground? Or is it fully automatic? I would imagine this would probably have to be situated in rural areas. But who knows. Maybe it could be situated on a rooftop in Manhattan.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Does it need a babysitter?
Ann R. Thryft   5/9/2012 3:28:28 PM
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Good questions, Rob. It's described as fully automated and for remote locations. That sounds like it doesn't need a babysitter, although obviously it would need occasional maintenance checks. As far as a rooftop, I don't know--this is a scaled prototype and not full size, so I guess it depends on the size and height of the roof.


Charles Murray
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Re: Does it need a babysitter?
Charles Murray   5/9/2012 7:52:00 PM
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Ann, the story describes this as a 35-foot scale prototype. How big would it be when it's scaled up?

TJ McDermott
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Twice the power?
TJ McDermott   5/10/2012 12:23:08 AM
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Can we assume that statement is twice the power of an equally sized turbine?

The GE 1.5MW turbine has a nacelle / blade assembly weight of 92 tons.  Let's say the weight can be cut in half because the power is double at altitude.  Call it a nice round 40 tons for discussion sake.

The Air Force has an aerostat based radar system.  The aerostat is 186 feet long, 62 feet diameter, and lifts 2200 pounds.

Mr. Glass stated the system would be good for remote sites, and that makes a good deal of sense.  Places that need a reasonably portable power source will probably not need a megawatt of power.

But he also implied this system could replace conventional tower turbines.  I don't see that; something with the lift capacity of 40 aerostats would be necessary.

Helium is also a non-renewable resource; its price has steadily climbed.

warren@fourward.com
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Airborne Turbine
warren@fourward.com   5/10/2012 9:43:57 AM
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If the size doubles, the weight quadruples, probably.   That would be a heavy payload for helium balloons. 

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Does it need a babysitter?
warren@fourward.com   5/10/2012 9:46:54 AM
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The other problem is maintenance.  The government funded windmills are largely laying fallow as the grants covered the windmill but not the maintenance.  The power generated must not be of much value.  Will this happen to these, too?

ChasChas
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Remote Areas?
ChasChas   5/10/2012 11:09:17 AM
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Maybe it can double as a cell phone tower in remote areas.

ervin0072002
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Re: Remote Areas?
ervin0072002   5/10/2012 11:42:03 AM
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Cell tower? I was thinking Wi-Fi for all..... Don't you love innovation? Well it's nice to look at. I would worry about this project though. I would hate to have this thing land on my roof, because strong winds tore it of the tether.

ironhorse
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Re: Does it need a babysitter?
ironhorse   5/10/2012 11:57:39 AM
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Warren, the target production model is 100kW, which is on the order of the oil energy output of one of the common stripper wells, which are decidedly non-mobile and require a significant logistical chain from rock to generator. You did observe that the target market is mobile and remote sites?

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Does it need a babysitter?
warren@fourward.com   5/10/2012 12:05:02 PM
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To Ironhorse-  I am afraid I mixed several things together.  One was the comment about a 40 ton weight in the air.  Second was maintenance cost of a larger commercial device.  Third was the value of the output of the large windmills not being adequate to support the maintenance.  For small job sites or multiple-family areas the smaller unit refered to in the article could be a real blessing.  I assume maintenance would be minimal, although this might not be a reality until the second or third generation.

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