In order to harness the stronger and more consistent winds found in the sky, Altaeros Energies is developing a new turbine that looks a lot like a blimp. It's called the Altaeros Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) — and as the name suggests it's actually a turbine set inside an inflatable shell full of helium, which is held in place with strong tethers that are also used to transfer energy back to ground level. The AWT was recently demonstrated in Limestone, Maine where it managed to reach a height of 350 feet, produce twice the amount of power typically generated at standard turbine height, and then land successfully.
That was just a demonstration, though, and eventually the AWT is expected to go much higher. It's designed to reach heights of 1,000 feet where the wind can be more than five times as strong as it is on the ground. According to Altaeros, the AWT also requires minimal maintenance and can be set-up in a matter of a few days — making it a potentially ideal energy solution for remote locations like small villages and military sites. After its successful demonstration, Altaeros is now hoping to find some partners to make the AWT a commercial reality.