The cabling I've seen for 100+ Amp service is on the order of that I've seen for lightning protection. Remember, it is not the instananious amps, it is the integral of I^2Rdt, yes, huge I, but tiny t. -- I'm not concerned.
Aircraft are now being made of composites, so conductors must be integrated into the surface, as is needed with LTAV, too.Even aluminum aircraft have cabling strung internally to guide the strike current.
A point is that aircraft and power system designers both have to know how to deal with lightning.Tethered balloons with conductive lines to the ground go back to the 1860's at least.
At the end of the press release appears this statement: "In December 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released draft guidelines allowing the new class of airborne wind systems to be sited under existing regulation." After half an hour of web searching, mostly on the FAA site (where I've successfully found draft guidelines and advisories before), I couldn't verify it. Can anyone tell us more about these guidelines and what they cover?
But aircraft are a flying Faraday shield with no direct connection to ground. Lightning strikes are mega-amps, or at least a gaggle of amps. I wonder, not being a lightning guy, if the cables can carry the mega-load and be light enough at 1000' to keep the system afloat. That's all I'm saying.
Aircraft are regularly struck by lightning.Tethered aircraft have some advantage here over free flying craft.Like church steeples, they may carry grounded lighting protection equipment. The very fact that the turbine is in the wind means it will develop significant static charge (ask Chinook ground crews). I can't imagine why the static discharge and lightning grounding function wouldn't be integrated into the power conductors, Suplimented by any designed-in structural teather metal (reenforcing steel or aluminum). Lightning protection and tolerance is already integral to both power system design and aircraft design and certification.
That could be, Warren. We'll have to see. You're right about the value of the energy. If it's significant, someone will figure out how to fit the maintenance in. Could be these turbines that go to higher altitudes might make the energy harvesting worth the trouble.
At any rate it's a good idea simply because it aims to harvest wind in a location where there is more significant wind than near the ground. I'm also interested to see how things work out with wind harvesting out on the ocean. That's another attempt to get to stronger winds.
When you think about the Wind Farms we've seen – rows and rows of gigantic wind turbines in the Southwestern part of the country – I can imagine these things becoming commonplace in the sky – so much so that pilots would have to have them charted;(that shouldn'tbe too cumbersome of a task, considering NASA is tracking 1000's of pieces of space debris).This concept seems financially lucrative and technologically feasible.Two-Thumbs-Up.
Warren, good questions. I also wonder about the tether material and how it handles different voltage levels, as well as the whole ground system for receiving and distributing power. The company says it is looking for partners for commercialization. Perhaps once it gets past this stage we can learn more details.
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