For years wind farms have been criticised for blighting the landscape, but scientists at Nasa and other organisations in the US are developing a possible solution – wind turbines in the sky.The space agency and other commercial companies are developing airborne turbines, which are effectively large circular kites that house electricity-generating blades.
As well as removing the need for unpleasant-looking turbines on the land, flying turbines benefit from the faster and more consistent wind speeds that their added height gives them.
One of the biggest criticisms of land-based wind farms is that they give out a patchy performance because of varying wind speeds.
One of the more advanced flying turbines has been developed by Altaeros Energies, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
According to reports this weekend, the company has carried out a successful test flight with a 15-yard prototype that reached an altitude of 350 feet.
Altaeros’s airborne wind farm uses a circular, helium-filled, inflatable shell with a propeller in the centre. It is tethered and sends electricity to the ground.
The flying turbines have little or no environmental or noise impact, the company said.
“In the long-term we see the biggest opportunity in the off-shore sector – places like North Sea off the coast of Scotland,” said Adam Rein of Altaeros.
Nasa’s own version is a kite-device which involves a generator on the ground gathering energy from the tether of the kite as it catches the wind.
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