Joby Energy Envisions Aloft Wind Turbines As Power Source

Not long ago, we reported on a high-altitude wind project being tested by a Google-backed cleantech start up in Maui. Now, a company known as Joby Energy is testing and evaluating their version of a high-flying wind turbine–and making an effort to educate the world on the potentials of high-altitude wind, too.

According to Mr. Mr Bevirt of Joby (as reported by Physorg), there’s an estimated 870 terawatts of power potential being carried in high-altitude, tropospheric winds–considerably more than the 17 terawatts it would take to supply the entire annual power needs of planet Earth. This is not a new idea–the concept of using high-altitude winds to power turbines was first suggested around four decades ago–but only in recent years has the technology evolved to make it feasible. Using new materials, advanced computers, electronics and sensors, as well as unmanned aircraft, it’s a “blue-sky dream” whose time seems to have come.


image via Physorg

Joby tested over 20 designs before settling on a multi-winged kite-like craft supporting an array of turbines connected to a 30 kW system. This version is currently undergoing evaluation and testing; if tests prove successful, the company will create a 100 kW prototype, and then a set of turbine arrays generating 300 kW each, enough to supply wind power to 150 homes.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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