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Company Wants To Put Power Plants In the Sky

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the silver-powered-lining dept.

Power 223

Zothecula writes "Harvesting power from the wind and the sun is nothing new. We've seen flying wind turbines and solar power plants that aim to provide clean renewable energy. UK-based New Wave Energy has a bolder idea in the works. The company plans to build the first high altitude aerial power plant, using networks of unmanned drones that can harvest energy from multiple sources and transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground."

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As long as it gets me more of this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45515875)

more of this [youtube.com]

Re:As long as it gets me more of this (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 9 months ago | (#45515997)

Calling Michael Moorcock.

Is Oswald Bastable available?

Brings a whole new definition (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 9 months ago | (#45516711)

To cloud based high energy network.

Re:As long as it gets me more of this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516075)

Troll - Kagamine Rin & Len

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocaloid#Marketing

Re:As long as it gets me more of this (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#45516773)

This [youtube.com] is much better.

Failure rate? (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45515923)

Some of my French friend might not mind the idea of sharp 20m x 20m solar panels occasionally plummeting on the Brits.

Where can you find a good EMP device these days?

Re:Failure rate? (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 9 months ago | (#45517149)

I hope that's just your perception, and your French friends are not the hate-fueled psychos that you see them as.

Re:Failure rate? (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45517243)

You've never met a soccer fan, have you?

(Kidding, of course... I think... At least most of them. Yeah... Most.)

Re:Failure rate? (2)

aitikin (909209) | about 9 months ago | (#45517485)

They're called football fans over there. Or worse, hooligans.

Wake me when it makes more power than it consumes (4, Insightful)

davek (18465) | about 9 months ago | (#45515993)

If I see another story about some schlub who "plans on" making clean, cheap power; or one that "reveals" a breakthrough that "could" revolutionize power generation, I'm going to lose it. We can harness the power of the atom to provide almost limitless clean energy, but no one cares because Japan gets flooded sometimes. *yawn*

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45516029)

Oh for a mod point.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516069)

But what if the power plant is run by incompetent Ukrainian communists, didn't think of that did you!

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (5, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45516105)

But what if the power plant is run by incompetent Ukrainian communists, didn't think of that did you!

That problem has a known solution.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516277)

The solution to this also involves harness the power of the atom.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (5, Funny)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 9 months ago | (#45516879)

I say we harness the power of the atom from a circular trajectory. It's the only way to be positive.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (1)

lgw (121541) | about 9 months ago | (#45518067)

Ouch.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516777)

day care centers in the containment.

jr

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45516121)

The plant in Japan was an obsolete design, hit by a tsunami rather larger than any planned for, and experiencing by sheer bad luck multiple redundent system failures.

And it *still* couldn't do worse than leak a tiny bit of radiation. Fatalities: Zero. It's not even leaving a not 'no entry' zone. At worst, no fishing in the area for a while. It's a non-disaster.

But... nuclear, scary!

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516257)

I'm pronuclear but I think it's pretty well demonstarted that TEPCO can be called anything but truthful.

Whilst I understand your desire to downplay events we do need to accept that nuclear does have one very real and dangerous flaw: People.

Yes the tech, especially today's designs, are safe.

But, as long as you have penny pinching arsehats running the show, things are going to go wrong.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (5, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45517821)

Yes the tech, especially today's designs, are safe.

They're still designed on the same principles as the bomb-making reactors of the 1950s. There's still a danger in a really really bad screw-up and they produce an awful lot of very nasty waste product (this is by design - they were meant for making bombs, remember).

We've got newer designs that are inherently safe (ie. they fail to a safe state) and don't produce all the bomb-making residues. Trouble is, governments want no part of funding the R&D costs these days and financing them through private investors makes them a hundred times more expensive (it's a long term project so they won't bother investing unless they get a return on their money 20 years from now which is a hundred times their initial investment).

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516771)

"hit by a tsunami rather larger than any planned for"

That's the problem. Not larger than any expected in that area, because earthquakes and tsunami of that scale are a part of the history of the region (e.g., the 869AD earthquake and tsunami [wikipedia.org] ), but larger than they decided to build a tsunami wall for. It didn't have to be that way, because another nuclear plant in the same region (Onagawa) survived just fine thanks to building a wall that was big enough [oregonlive.com] . At Fukushima it was a sloppy decision for the sake of saving money. It wasn't bad luck, it was stupid, cheap design, like also putting the backup generators below normal sea level instead of up high. In a known tsunami-prone area, that was foolish. Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen thanks to decisions made decades before. Even as the risk because of tsunami became more established in recent decades because of more research on historical tsunami, they still didn't update adequately. This was not "bad luck". It was incompetence.

Sure, no deaths, but huge areas of well-justified evacuation. Contrary to your claim, there will be wide areas on land that are unsafe for agriculture or residence for decades (particularly because of the effects of cesium isotopes). Even if people return, their lives will be changed for a long time. Thousands of people are currently refugees in their own country. I agree that the magnitude of the event has been somewhat exaggerated, and you could argue that some of the continued effects on people is because of overblown paranoia about radiation, but you're going too far the other way. I wouldn't want to live in the main contaminated areas either.

I'm pretty supportive of nuclear power generally, and I think the idea of flying solar power generation ranks pretty close to perpetual motion machines for practicality, but you won't get people to accept nuclear power or do it safely by downplaying the effects at Fukushima, and what a $@!#$!-up it was. The people in the midst of the disaster that kept it from being much worse are heroes, but the people who made the longer-term decision to cheap out on protections aught to be publicly flogged. The whole thing could have been a genuine non-event if it was properly managed. Onagawa nuclear power station proves that conclusively.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#45516899)

The plant in Japan was an obsolete design, hit by a tsunami rather larger than any planned for, and experiencing by sheer bad luck multiple redundent system failures.

So what you are saying is that you can solve the obsolete design part (is that even a problem? something newer isn't automatically better) but the problems of rare unplanned-for events and bad luck are still there.

You also forgot the issue of the operators being cheap and screwing up when things got bad.

Fatalities: Zero. It's not even leaving a not 'no entry' zone.

People died during the evacuation, and now at least 20 odd children have cancer that was likely caused by leaks from the plant with many more to come in the next few years.

But hay, who gives a fuck about the human suffering, it's costing hundreds of billions of dollars to clean the damn thing up and compensate everybody!

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 months ago | (#45517795)

But hay, who gives a fuck about the human suffering, it's costing hundreds of billions of dollars to clean the damn thing up and compensate everybody!

It's still way cheaper than the alternative (i.e., coal) -- in terms of human suffering and dollars.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 9 months ago | (#45518001)

Life isn't supposed to be perfectly safe. Nuclear power plants are very safe - they're down in the noise floor compared to real risks. But "oooooh nukular scary scary" is all people can hear.

Bad things happen in life, and eventually everyone dies. A nuclear power plant with a modern design is as safe as there's any point in making things in life. Will people eventually die as a result. Sure. People die building them to. It's just not important that they aren't "perfectly safe" because that's not an interesting goal.

A very low change of death is a minor factor in our standard of living. Technology that gives a net increase in standard of living is good, even if there are also downsides, because everything in life has downsides.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (1, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#45517041)

The Fukushima problem is not contained yet, and it appears people were covering up the damage, so it might be wise to wait a while, until all the data is in, before saying it is a non-disaster. Things could still go really badly.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517261)

The plant in Japan was an obsolete design, hit by a tsunami rather larger than any planned for, and experiencing by sheer bad luck multiple redundent system failures.

The plant in Japan... was real, not theoretical. That's how things work in the real world: old plants built with poor designs have bad luck. That's reality, and that's why nuclear is dead: all apologies and no acknowledgment of the UNLIMITED risks.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45518037)

" Fatalities: Zero"

      Actually several died trying to clean up some of the mess. Just because it wasn't radiation doesn't mean nuclear wasn't the cause of those persons deaths as those persons wouldn't have been there if the nuclear disaster hadn't happened. Kind of how people die in coal mines but ignore the fact that uranium mining has killed people too. And I won't go into the issues of nuclear waste.

At minimum, tens to hundreds of square miles of farmland and cities have been abandoned and will be for decades to centuries which might not have been a problem except that Japan is an island with a large population. And after all those pets died and decayed in those apartments maybe just razing the cities to the ground might be better. There's also fresh water, ocean contamination as well so many food/recreational resources were affected by the disaster.

It hasn't even been five years and elevated cancer rates are being seen in the exposed areas. A lot slower and more torturous route to death that can be generational with continued exposure.

And as for the age of the plant, the newer reactors are safer but still have ugly failure modes. Especially with humans, the biggest potential failure enabler of all, in charge of equipment that creates a major disaster as part of its normal operation. What could possibly go wrong?

P.S. To those that ask for citation. You're on the internet, look it up yourself.

Re:Wake me when it makes more power than it consum (1)

Pherdnut (969927) | about 9 months ago | (#45517155)

I think it would be much more efficient to harness the power of the atom to create superheroes who can build flying solar tesla broadcast power for us.

up up and away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516005)

Typical pie in the sky thinking of the europeans. Don't they know we need to dig for energy.

Power plants in the sky (4, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 9 months ago | (#45516011)

"We've seen flying wind turbines

We've seen artists impressions of flying wind turbines in PopSci and PopMec , nobody has actually built one that works yet...

  "networks of unmanned drones that can harvest energy from multiple sources"

Won't they be using most of the energy they harvest just to stay airborne?

" transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground."

What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516115)

My thoughts exactly.

Re:Power plants in the sky (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45516169)

They want financing.

GREEN power from DRONES will get you financing. Not sure why they didn't insist these will be BEYOND THE CLOUD!
That'd be the orgasmic trifecta of current VCs...

Re:Power plants in the sky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516325)

Not sure why they didn't insist these will be BEYOND THE CLOUD!

No, but they did include wireless!

ELECTRIC EYE (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 9 months ago | (#45516781)

you call these things drones.
I think they're trying to sell to the wrong audience.

Sell them to the NRO as spying platforms.
Sell them to Google as mapping bots.
Sell them to Verizon as wireless stations.
Then all that free, solar nrg can be sweet, sweet profit!

Re:Power plants in the sky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516357)

Agreed on points one and three but it doesn't matter even if the "drones" use most of the energy to stay airborne.

As long as the drone is, over its lifetime, able to return more energy then it took to create it, it's worth it.

i.e.

Drone costs 1000 units to produce.

Drone can "farm" 100 units but loses 90 units to power flight.

If the drone can complete 101 missions or more we've successfully havested energy.

Re:Power plants in the sky (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45516447)

iirc there were protos of some tethered wind turbines.

now those sound and look a lot more feasible than "wirelessly transmitting power" from flying drones. if they can do that then they could do a bunch of other energy harvesting projects.. no need to mix it up with drones.

Re:Power plants in the sky (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45517867)

Yep.

Trying to keep a flat 400m2 panel stable in the strong winds up there doesn't seem realistic to me. And wireless transmission? Give me a break.

Something tied to a cable (which can also bring the power down to ground level) seems like a much cheaper, safer bet. I wonder why nobody's actually done it yet.

Re:Power plants in the sky (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 9 months ago | (#45517977)

The biggest problem with untethered airborne turbines is the amount of power spent on keeping them in the air at their designated location. The other major problem is the efficiency of beaming power down through either RF or light beams - not particularly efficient.

The tethered helium or hydrogen filled canvas baloon-turbines does sound more feasible to me as well: make the turbine large enough to lift the whole thing including cables, the gas fill provides the lift so no additional power needs to be wasted on that and the tether provides ground attachment to keep the turbines in the general area where they are supposed to be which means little to no power wasted on positioning either. Copper cables in the tether also eliminate the need for energy conversions for transmission. Maybe not as neat but at least it does not have as many logic-defying challenges.

Re:Power plants in the sky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516503)

"We've seen flying wind turbines

We've seen artists impressions of flying wind turbines in PopSci and PopMec , nobody has actually built one that works yet...

  "networks of unmanned drones that can harvest energy from multiple sources"

Won't they be using most of the energy they harvest just to stay airborne?

" transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground."

What could possibly go wrong?

They could beam the power to the wrong place and vaporize a 4x4 tile section of your city? And then an alien shows up to abduct citizens and redistribute land types? Could that possibly go wrong? Hmm...

Re:Power plants in the sky (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 9 months ago | (#45517849)

We've seen artists impressions of flying wind turbines in PopSci and PopMec , nobody has actually built one that works yetâ¦

Actually, they have [youtube.com] . (Whether it will ever be economically competitive is another thing, but it does "work")

Beaming energy to the ground (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45516015)

Gee, that sounds efficient. Not.

Re:Beaming energy to the ground (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45516441)

Yeah, it's like they're unaware we already have a nuclear reactor in the sky beaming wireless energy to the ground -- It's called The Sun. Now, with the first part of their problem completed, we just need to erect more and more efficient energy collectors on the ground.

Drone internet? (2)

arobatino (46791) | about 9 months ago | (#45516021)

What about internet access? Low latency, unlike satellites.

Drone... (4, Insightful)

gagol (583737) | about 9 months ago | (#45516023)

Now add a camera and you get a pretty good domestic surveillance coverage.

Re:Drone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517063)

Now add a camera and you get a pretty good domestic surveillance coverage.

Probably the best way to get this funded...

A bolder idea? (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#45516033)

"Space-based solar power (SBSP) [wikipedia.org] is the concept of collecting solar power in space (using an "SPS", that is, a "solar power satellite" or a "satellite power system") for use on Earth. It has been in research since the early 1970s."

(Emphasis mine)

Re:A bolder idea? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45516549)

I once demonstrated a similar smaller scale solar power collection system to the ants. Their minds were blown and soon after they declared war.
Who knew building an operational Death Ray was in violation of the Treaty of Alderaan?

Re:A bolder idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516625)

Lends new meaning to the term "Scorched Earth Policy"

Re:A bolder idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517655)

Also the plot of the James Bond film Goldeneye.

Wait, wireless energy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516043)

Forgive me, but isn't the ability to transfer energy wirelessly something we don't yet have- apart from those 'wireless' boxes that use induction to charge batteries, which isn't really wireless at all?

Why don't we use this technology in our homes, or would the EM fry us and all our electronics? Perhaps shielded devices maybe...

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about 9 months ago | (#45516083)

It does exist and has for some time. There was a test a few years where they transmitted wireless energy from one Hawaiian island to another. It just terribly inefficient.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (4, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45516509)

It just terribly inefficient.

The understatement of the century, references to Tesla aside. Transmitting power without wires is indeed possible, but unsuitable for any kind of industrial level power transfer. Getting a few more than a fraction of a watt though free space on an electromagnetic wave is going to be really difficult and extremely inefficient. Doing it at an industrial scale will be pretty much impossible.

BTW, your Hawaiian island reference.. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/09/visionary-beams/ [wired.com]

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | about 9 months ago | (#45516109)

Wiki [wikipedia.org] helps sometimes. It can be done, just not efficiently. As long as the amount of power received is greater than the cost to keep the devices afloat, it'll be acceptable. Now, whether the net result is better than other options is highly debatable.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#45516135)

A guy called "Tesla" had it all figured out way back in the 19th century.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45516579)

A guy called "Tesla" had it all figured out way back in the 19th century.

So he said. We just cannot duplicate his experiments because he died and kept no useable documentation. Indications are that where he may have succeeded in transferring energy over RF, it was extremely limited and very short lived. Every attempt to duplicate his claims have shown to be extremely inefficient, so much so that the process is not cost effective for large scale power transmission.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45516139)

Tesla was doing wireless energy over long-distances. The problem, for him as now, is that the process is horrendously inefficient.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516177)

FTA:
>Rectenna arrays installed inland or on offshore installations would receive the electromagnetic waves and convert them into usable power.

Not sure if that's laserbeaming or what, but I imagine it'll knock down efficiency another notch.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 9 months ago | (#45516239)

But we do have it ... it's called photovoltaic.

It's possible to make a solar panel that's highly efficient at a single wavelength, and then you point a laser of that wavelength at it.

The problem is, there's groups like GDI [youtube.com] and Pacific Tech [youtube.com] out there.

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (1)

Holi (250190) | about 9 months ago | (#45516489)

I am pretty sure Tesla showed us how easy it is to transmit electricity wirelessly. Horribly inefficient but not difficult.

And you call yourself a nerd?

Re:Wait, wireless energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517421)

Required a common ground (actually, turns the ground into a conductor), so not viable for "wireless", just for turning the ground into a wire.

How? (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 9 months ago | (#45516053)

Ok, I get the photovoltaic part, but how can it gain energy from the wind without a tether?

-jcr

Re:How? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516301)

I have a feeling its something along the lines of spinning one propeller with the wind from another propeller to generate infinite wind power.

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516315)

Duh, it uses a small part of the energy it harvests to keep itself in place.

Re:How? (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 9 months ago | (#45516317)

Wind turbines on an aircraft brings up images of Donald Duck blowing air at the sail on his boat. That's not a good sign.

Re:How? (4, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 9 months ago | (#45516575)

Wind turbines on an aircraft brings up images of Donald Duck blowing air at the sail on his boat. That's not a good sign.

Contrary to what a simple interpretation of physics suggests, it actually is possible to propel a sailboat with a fan in that manner. However, it's highly inefficient and you'll get far better results by taking down the sail and pointing the fan in the other direction.

Re:How? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 9 months ago | (#45516989)

As pictured (with the boat running), it's only possible if the air particles bounce off the sail. It's probably possible to get aerodynamic drive from a fan... I'd have to draw out the vector diagram. Either way, it's extremely inefficient. Extremely inefficient is not how you want your power generation apparatus described.

Re:How? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45516597)

But an apt analogy for why this idea is doomed.. Pesky thermodynamics gets in the way again. We need to Repeal those laws..

Re:How? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45516535)

windmill on it? that is if it's using hot current or something to rise up and then generate energy from that.

it does sound rather fanciful though.

I mean, if we had wireless energy like that then electric cars would be a fixed problem.

Re:How? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#45516631)

Flying against the wind. Obviously.

Have I told you about my "Self illuminating light powered underground plant"?

It's called... (3, Insightful)

David Betz (2845597) | about 9 months ago | (#45516085)

...The Sun.

Meh (4, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about 9 months ago | (#45516133)

There's really no point in flying solar cells, they don't work any better than down on Earth, and they shade what's under just the same. It's quite pointless, if you ask me. If you're going to fly something, use the flying aspect of it to generate power. What a let-down.

IMHO the way of using flying-anything for power has been demonstrated by Makani Power [makanipower.com] . I somehow trust Makani's engineering a tad better. They've been a bit more open about their engineering process, and they have some pretty damn good talent. Oh, and their areal power density (per are of flying "stuff") is at least order of magnitude better than an ideal 100% efficient solar cell would be. So, meh. Big meh.

Re:Meh (1)

flynnieous (1542191) | about 9 months ago | (#45516295)

Shouldn't that depend on how high you fly it? If it's above the cloud layer, you'd take out that interference. If you can float it in a constant noon orbit, wouldn't you maximize exposure?

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516595)

And, yet they still want to beam the power wirelessly to the ground. Still dealing with the interference from the cloud layer.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516857)

To beam the power you can use a frequency that traverses the cloud layer.

The bigger problem is that "constant noon orbit" is the L1 Lagrange point which is 4x farther than the moon.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517439)

No... just no..
Look at the tiny size of the Makani rotors, it's a ludicrous waste of time.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517531)

And also read the comments on Gizmag:

http://www.gizmag.com/google-x-makani-power-airborne-wind-turbine/27668/

Skeptic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516149)

If you want to harvest more energy than what was involved in the construction and maintenance of the energy-harvesting-drone, then you need to send a significant proportion of that energy toward the ground. And it then hit the same problem we have had with such idea for a long time : there isn't significantly more solar energy in altitude than on the ground, you would have to go in orbit. But even if you collect it using wind, giving it back to the ground station can then be hazardeous due to the quantity involved (multiple kW , maybe more) so either you spread it over a surface to make it harmless to the living stuff on the ground, or you have far away. Spreading it on a large antena makes an even greater investment and means being far away from where it is mostly used (near city). Making it tight and dangerous invovle targeting issues and liabilities, and being far away from city again.

That idea seems practicable only for small amount of power, far away from any city.

OMG Please Make It Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516281)

You know, if motors and stuff existed back then, the early explorers could have gotten here so much more quickly by putting giant fans on the decks of their ships to blow into the sheets. They could have harvested the energy from the water moving beneath the ship.

Now, here are my millions of dollars in loan guarantees so I can turn my green idea into reality???

Re:OMG Please Make It Stop! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45516683)

Sounds like a plan for making lots of money... Hey, I have an idea to add to this..

Why don't we have congress just repeal the laws of thermodynamics? After all, it's these laws that are making all these energy generation programs SOO hard to get done... Without these laws, perpetual motion machines would be possible and we could just get free energy anyplace we wanted. Think of how much more efficient our current generators would be if it wasn't for that Entropy thing?

Oh wait.... would that work?

Re:OMG Please Make It Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517567)

Barack Obama actually suggested as much at a 2006 speech he gave while running for Senate in Illinois. I know, because I heard the words with my own ears. I was a supporter of his back then, and as much as I am ashamed to admit it, I paid $250 for that dinner.

He said that if the Laws of Physics were getting in the way of clean energy, then "Congress needs to look into that."

It was embarrassing.

Re:OMG Please Make It Stop! (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 9 months ago | (#45517103)

Sails, not sheets. Sheets are the lines used to control the sails. Hence the phrase "three sheets to the wind" indicating one has lost control.)

Anyway, as long as you're about it, why not drag along an OTEC generator at depth? You could also tether an aerial windmill to the top of a mast. Plenty of leccy to run your fan. Might even have enough left over to keep the beer cold.

Awesome... (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 9 months ago | (#45516381)

world finally catching up to Nikolai Tesla.

Drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45516435)

I think the government will be all over this. Don't mind the drones in the sky, they are just generating power. Really would we lie.

This is BS... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 9 months ago | (#45516495)

Okay, flying drones are possible. Flying drones with power generation methods such as solar cells on board are possible. Flying drones that can fly for weeks or months through the high atmosphere are perhaps possible with some technology development. Flying drones that can fly for months through the high atmosphere and generate a significant quantity of excess power might be possible some day with significant technology development in solar cell or wind turbine efficiency. But...but...but...transmitting that power 'wirelessly' to a ground station with any sort of reasonable efficiency is definitely NOT possible with any technology currently known, such as microwaves or lasers. To do that would take some sort of breakthrough insight into a completely new technology such as, for example, quantum energy exchange between coupled atomic reservoirs, localized gravity field modulation, or, more ambitiously, time progression distortion in a localized electrical transmission field. But...the article says they will have a working prototype in one year after receiving the modest quantity of startup funding. This entire project sounds like a scam to bilk investors akin to running cars on water as a fuel or, perhaps, a CIA cover story for some sort of screwy long-term drone surveillance scheme, to name just two possibilities. In any event, the story as presented is complete and utter bullshit.

Nope. (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 9 months ago | (#45516511)

Once again, someone forgot to run the numbers. It's not practical, and certainly not news. How does this trash make into /. ?

Why not build them on the beds of rivers (2)

Marrow (195242) | about 9 months ago | (#45516593)

Instead of a dam, and all the expense. Why not have an underwater windmill? In fact, you could mount it on a platform that could be raised and lowered for servicing the unit. The cables that keep it from washing away also protect/carry the conductors for the electricity.
If the unit is deep enough, barge traffic could go right over the top.

Re:Why not build them on the beds of rivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517005)

Like this? [bbc.co.uk]

bad idea (4, Funny)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 9 months ago | (#45516939)

we all know how dangerous the microwave power stations were in Sim City.

Re:bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517719)

Well I don't know how bad they were. My grade school self knew it was a bad idea then and never bought one.
My adult self laughs* at this and many other obviously stupid ideas.

*laughing in a nerdy energy-balance thermodynamic kind of way.

WTF? (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 9 months ago | (#45517013)

Does anyone vet these before posting? The "proof of concept" is a toy helicopter with a toy photovoltaic cell sending power down a wire to light five toy houses. It's toys all the way down.

It's a high school science project -- a bad one at that. It's an April Fools' joke. It's $39.95 at Toys r Us. It's $9.95 on Woot! It's a cover from the December 1964 Popular Science. It's a scene from a 1955 science fiction movie. From Afghanistan. It's News for nerds, Stuff that matters.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517741)

Does it say if the toy helicopter was running on its own batteries? I bet it was.

Nighttime? Batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517035)

Neither the fine article, nor the linked web page for the company mentions what happens at night. Do the drones land? Do they stay in the air using batteries? Does anybody know?

tethered version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45517047)

I have an idea for a tethered version that can derive large amounts of power from the electrostatic discharge between the electrically charged regions. :P

patent followed by investment money pls.

Why drones? (1)

whitroth (9367) | about 9 months ago | (#45517373)

If you're going to beam power down... the environmental impact statement for solar power satellites was done in the early eighties.

And no, idiots, it is not a MEGAWATT BEAM TO WIPE OUT CITIES - IIRC, they were talking about something about 10? 100? watts/m^2, and a large array of receivers in desert areas.

                mark

Interesting (1)

houbou (1097327) | about 9 months ago | (#45517661)

Wouldn't it be more efficient if the drones were in space, away from our atmosphere? And if one can harness power in such a way that it can be wirelessly transmitted, wouldn't that also be "in the wrong hands" a weapon of some rather next level form of mass destruction?

Another fly by night operation (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#45517733)

So, I presume that these drones are powered by the power they collect and that they stay aloft at night...

There is no way this works in a financially viable way. Getting any kind of aircraft in the air and keeping it there is a power intensive operation. We only recently demonstrated a solar powered aircraft capable of staying aloft overnight. Even so, it wasn't a power generation platform because it returned with less of a charge in the battery than it left with. So I think they are being a bit optimistic about being able to stay aloft, much less collect enough energy to send some of it home. But let's assume they manage to be power positive.

Now they have to somehow transfer this fraction of the power they collect down some wireless link. This will be extremely inefficient and very hard to do on an industrial scale. Assuming the airborne equipment doesn't wreak the efficiency of the drone, I just don't see how this will be possible.

In the end, this really just looks like a ploy to get government money for R&D work where the execs and owners can skim off funds and not have to worry about making any actual progress. In fact, the less progress the better, because all they will likely prove is stupid this idea actually is. It's just a fly by night operation.

Physics notwithstanding... (1)

rich3rd (559032) | about 9 months ago | (#45517987)

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Flying Hockey Stick, in which a kid straps an umbrella and a fan to a hockey stick, assembles a very long chain of extension cords and then proceeds to fly all around the world on various adventures. Even as a child I knew that such a contraption would never work in real life, but the important take-away for me was that I learned the willful suspension of disbelief in the interest of enjoying a fanciful story. Obviously, anyone who invests real money in a scheme to deploy airborne heavier-than-air wind turbine power generators is either engaging in the same sort of self-delusion, or dumber than a box of armpit hair. I hear there's one born every minute.

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