As the world progresses towards innovation and ingenuity, energy demand too has been on the rise. One source of renewable energy that has come to the fore is wind. The future of energy production lies high up in the clouds. Generating power using winds at high altitudes is not a new idea though, but it’s only the advancement made in technology that makes it feasible today. Joby Energy has found a brilliant way to make renewable energy generation affordable.
Joby Energy’s airborne turbine looks like a multi-winged kite supporting an array of turbines. The motor-generators connected to the turbines provide the kite the thrust require to vertical take-off, while a computer system controls the orientation of the kite to the wind by adjusting rotor speeds to keep it flying in a circular path. The kite is anchored to the ground using a reinforced composite tether and this tether itself is responsible to transmit all the energy produce back to the ground.
The airborne turbines would initially fly at a height of 600 meters or less, which is five times higher than conventional wind turbines. Although it can fly at altitudes over 10,000 meters, but as of now the US Federal Aviation Administration has restricted it to fly beyond 600 meters. Higher altitude means higher wind speeds and better wind consistency, giving more reliable power supplies. Capable of withstand strong winds, this turbine is also designed to be landed safely even if the tether is broken, using batteries to power its motors. Right now, the company has selected 30 kW system for evaluation and testing, but it plans to test a 100 kW prototype in the near future.