Altaeros Energies, an alternative energy supply company, announces their BAT (Buoyant Airborne Turbine) system that uses lightweight materials to harness the power of wind. Its first commercial application will be with the Alaska Energy Authority in 2014.
the BAT — or Buoyant Airborne Turbine — the enormous, white helium-filled doughnut surrounding a rotor will float about 1,000 feet in the air and feed enough electricity to power more than a dozen homes through one of the cables tethering it to the ground. The Altaeros BAT integrates proven aerospace and wind turbine technology. The BAT lifting platform is adapted from tethered aerostats, which have reliably lifted heavy communications and monitoring equipment high into the air for decades. The Altaeros BAT integrates four main components:
Shell - A proprietary helium-filled shell made from high performance, industrial fabrics that lifts the turbine up and stabilizes it in the air.
Turbine - A lightweight conventional three-blade, horizontal axis wind turbine fixed within the shell.
Tethers – The lightweight, high strength tethers hold the turbine in place in all weather conditions and transmit power to the ground.
Ground Station - The portable ground station is rapidly deployed from a shipping container and includes an autonomous control system and power conditioning equipment.
Alaska’s remote communities where energy costs run so high that even a promising but largely unproven technology may well be cost-effective. In parts of Alaska, prices can reach about $1 per kilowatt-hour, roughly 10 times the national average. Serving markets like that could help the company establish its business and lower costs to eventually compete for larger-scale projects. The Alaska Energy Authority awarded Altaeros a $1.3 million grant from its Emerging Energy Technology Fund to support testing the equipment over 18 months with the idea of expanding its use.
Ben Glass, chief executive of Altaeros, said he expected the company to be able to offer power at about 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, far too high for most conventional markets but still well below the 35 cents a kilowatt-hour often paid in remote areas of Alaska.
Mr. Glass started the company in 2010 along with Adam Rein (and another partner who has since left) as the two were completing graduate programs at M.I.T., Mr. Glass in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and Mr. Rein in business at the Sloan School of Management.
How very different and radical a concept. It could be revolutionary for high cost areas in the north with sufficient wind.