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The Highest-Flying Wind Turbine

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the not-recommended-for-hurricane-areas dept.

Power 143

Daniel_Stuckey writes: "In far-flung rural Alaska, where electricity can cost as much as $1 per kilowatt hour — more than 10 times the national average, according to the New York Times — a wind turbine encased in a giant helium balloon is about to break a world record. The Bouyant Air Turbine (BAT) is about to be floated 1,000 feet into the air in the name of cleaner, cheaper, and mobile energy. That single airborne grouper—it's sort of a hybrid of a blimp, a kite, and a turbine—will power over a dozen homes. The BAT is the brainchild of Altaeros, a company founded by MIT alumni, and, if everything goes according to plan, it's going to be the highest-flying power generator in history. Since winds blow stronger and more consistently the higher above the ground you go, and the hovering BAT harnesses that gale and sends electricity down to earth through the high-strength tethers that also hold the machine steady. "

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143 comments

Helium (4, Insightful)

Kardos (1348077) | about 4 months ago | (#46601821)

This can never scale due to helium scarcity. While even low-quality helium would undoubtedly work for this application, the quantities required to build these at scale would drive the price through the roof.

Re:Helium (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601853)

While Hydrogen is significantly more dangerous, depending on the overall cost and possible ways to limit the dangers, it may be an option.

Re:Helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601901)

Hydrogen and electrical generation generally do not mix, unless it's in a fuel cell and the hydrogen is the fuel. Sarah Palin-esque rednecks and big floaty things in the sky generally do not mix, unless the floaty things are clay pigeons. Wind turbines and birds generally do not mix, unless you are trying to make bald eagle foie gras.

We should instead be looking at a rigid sphere with all the air pumped out to create a near perfect vacuum for buoyancy, armed with surface to ground missiles for defense.

Re:Helium (5, Informative)

IJ Hull (3538543) | about 4 months ago | (#46602369)

Search for "hydrogen cooled electrical generator" .. you statement 'Hydrogen and electrical generation generally do not mix' is really really wrong. Don't like giving GE free adds, but.. http://www.ge-energy.com/produ... [ge-energy.com]

Re:Helium (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46602799)

Beat me to it. Somebody please mod this guy above up.
The first time I saw bright red hydrogen gas canisters was in a turbine hall full of 1960s vintage siemens turbines.

Re:Helium (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46601953)

While Hydrogen is significantly more dangerous ...

These are unmanned. So even if a tiny fraction burn up (due to lightning or whatever), I don't see how that would be much of a problem. Hydrogen burns very quickly, so would be consumed before it hit the ground. Just make sure they are tethered so they don't fall on a populated area.

Re:Helium (5, Funny)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 4 months ago | (#46601983)

There must be somewhere in Alaska where there aren't any people around. There must be.

Re:Helium (4, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#46602495)

While Hydrogen is significantly more dangerous ...

These are unmanned. So even if a tiny fraction burn up (due to lightning or whatever), I don't see how that would be much of a problem. Hydrogen burns very quickly, so would be consumed before it hit the ground. Just make sure they are tethered so they don't fall on a populated area.

Just add a parachute pack lashed to the bottom. The balloon burns, the weight causes the parachute to rotate to above the falling structure and an altimeter deploys the parachute before it hits the ground.

You could make this pretty reliable if you separate the hydrogen lifting cells from the turbine/parachute system so an incineration would just involve attaching new balloons and sending the whole thing back up.

Re:Helium (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 months ago | (#46602831)

a) From the pictures it doesn't look like it goes high enough for a parachute to be effective.
b) If there's a fire I'd assume that the parachute would be compromised by the heat.

Re:Helium (3, Informative)

jb11 (2683015) | about 4 months ago | (#46603545)

a) From the pictures it doesn't look like it goes high enough for a parachute to be effective.

It says that they will be floating at 1000ft. I believe you can deploy a parachute down to a couple hundred feet.

Re:Helium (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#46604249)

Well that's the idea of working around the hydrogen. You offset the hydrogen cells so they're expendable and under heat release the gas quickly, away from the turbine. The parachute gets enough aerodynamics so when it falls it acts like a drogue and pulls itself above the turbine before deploying.

Re:Helium (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602597)

Hydrogen leaks easily and every electrical contact in the generation systems is a potential ignition point. Plus others. While they might not be prohibitive risks, it might still be better to avoid them.

Use part of the electricity generated to maintain hot air? Air gap insulation and other reduced weight methods?

Re:Helium (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46603459)

Hydrogen leaks easily

But less easily than helium through non-metallic materials. Even a party balloon will hold hydrogen for days. This thing will have less permeable material, and a much higher volume/surface ratio, so it should be able to stay up for weeks before needing a hydrogen top up. It might even be able to make its own H2 by collecting condensation and doing electrolysis.

every electrical contact in the generation systems is a potential ignition point.

It is suspended in a gale force wind. It is extremely unlikely that the hydrogen slowly diffusing through the covering will build up enough to ignite.

Re:Helium (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 months ago | (#46604751)

Interesting. Is that because hydrogen is diatomic, and thus always bigger than monoatomic helium even though the atoms themselves are smaller? Or does it have something to do with helium's inertness?

Re:Helium (1)

es330td (964170) | about 4 months ago | (#46603209)

Just make sure they are tethered so they don't fall on a populated area.

The only reason these are necessary is that the residents live in sparsly populated areas. If more people lived there the infrastructure cost of traditional electric delivery would be justifiable. From TFA, a turbine could power "dozens" of homes. In the biggest state in the US, a dozen homes is a rounding error in population density.

Re:Helium (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46603797)

The only reason these are necessary is that the residents live in sparsly populated areas.

They are deployed first where electricity is $1/kwh, but if they can be scaled up and mass produced, we could use them everywhere. If you go up high enough, you can almost always find strong winds. Unlike many other renewables, these could be used for steady baseload power. There is a lot of potential for this technology.

Re:Helium (3, Funny)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 4 months ago | (#46602055)

While Hydrogen is significantly more dangerous, depending on the overall cost and possible ways to limit the dangers, it may be an option.

I for one welcome the gargantuan exploding lawnmowers to our skies.

Re:Helium (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 months ago | (#46602329)

1 - Replace the battery with an electrolytic generator.
2 - Store part of the hydrogen on the top.
3 - Replace the electric cable with a tube that pumps water up and hydrogen down.

Re:Helium (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#46602501)

Up high in the atmosphere you could easily harvest enough water from the air to keep the thing self-sufficient.

Re:Helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604009)

Water tends to freeze, especially in Alaska.

CAPTCHA: canteen!

Re:Helium (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 4 months ago | (#46603203)

Not really. Just properly grounding the thing would fix that.

Re:Helium (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 4 months ago | (#46604755)

Well as its doesn't carry any passengers there should not be a huge problem - though NIBYS can be strange. People complained about fuel cell powered buses in London and quoted the Hindenburg as an example of why the buses where not safe.

Re:Helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601857)

You could use a hot air balloon but at that point you're just being needlessly creative in converting fuels to electricity.

Re:Helium (4, Informative)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46601873)

You're correct about the helium scarcity, but a wind sail generator such as this could probably be modified to produce it's own heated air to stay aloft, a technology already in widespread use in ballooning.

If you check out one article this week, make it this one... these things are crafty cool.

Re:Helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601969)

Do you mean TFA or were you trying to link something but forgot the link part?

Re:Helium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601963)

Why not just add a small diameter hose and use some of the electricity for electrolysis? It might leak a little more, but I doubt you need a very large flow of water.

Re:Helium (2)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 months ago | (#46602125)

This system isn't designed for general or widespread use. The article specifically mentions industrial and construction use, and the artist's rendition shows them in use at a bridge construction site. So it would be in place of diesel generators and the like, and launched only when needed daily as weather permits to save money over using expensive diesel.

Re:Helium (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 months ago | (#46602813)

As I mentioned on Soylent, you only need a little helium to get it off the ground in the first place, then it can generate its own hydrogen or hot air to keep itself aloft for extended periods.

Re:Helium (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603485)

Helium is not scarce at all. It is the second most abundant element there is. Currently (on Earth) there is 3000 metric tons produced annually, with 78% of the global supply existing within the United States.

About to break a world record! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601825)

Ummmm.... What world record? Surely you don't expect that I'll read TFA?

Re:About to break a world record! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601885)

They claim it is the highest flying power generator, but conveniently omit the ISS.

Re:About to break a world record! (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 4 months ago | (#46602013)

What about the Voyager spacecraft the left the solar system a few months ago?

Re:About to break a world record! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602043)

Voyager leave the solar system every month. The solar system is a ever-growing boundary.

Re:About to break a world record! (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#46602433)

Voyager leave the solar system every month. The solar system is a ever-growing boundary.

It's not leaving, it's fleeing the solar system which is obviously trying to chase it down.

Re:About to break a world record! (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 months ago | (#46603009)

Voyager isn't flying.

Re:About to break a world record! (4, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 4 months ago | (#46602025)

Is the ISS flying? Nope. It's not lighter than air either. Apples & Oranges.

Re:About to break a world record! (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 months ago | (#46602481)

Neither apples nor oranges are lighter than air.

Turns out you can compare apples and oranges. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602795)

Based on nutritional value, they are actually quite comparable.

Re:About to break a world record! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46603977)

I knew they had problems with the aerodynamic drag, having to raise the orbit every now and then, but apparently it never occurred to them to turn off the wind turbine to alleviate this problem.

Re:About to break a world record! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604399)

"flying"

So the ISS is now using aerodynamic lift to stay in orbit now? Cool.

hm... (0, Troll)

calexontheroad66 (975611) | about 4 months ago | (#46601845)

Has anybody given any thought about the weight of the electrical cable needed to connect the balloon to the base station?

Re:hm... (3, Funny)

sunking2 (521698) | about 4 months ago | (#46601861)

No. Every single person involved in this is an idiot.

Re:hm... (0)

calexontheroad66 (975611) | about 4 months ago | (#46602209)

Let's see how much buoyancy does the balloon needs to support an electrical generator, plus support the weight of the cables which have to conduct electricity and support mechanical loads. These cables need to be insulated and the insulation must also support part of the mechanical forces involved without breaking down. Most power cables are under static load, and have regular supports. The cable needs to be stronger than the usual power cables , lighter or otherwise the balloon will have issues staying at the optimal height.

Re:hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602243)

Maybe not. But it's dollars-to-donuts that most of them are well aware of the shall we say 'impractical' financial aspect of this scheme.. It's incentive schemes all the way down!

Re:hm... (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 4 months ago | (#46603537)

No, only the people investing in this are idiots, the ones collecting the money are quite clever.

  Its really difficult to imagine that this is cheaper per power output than a conventional generator. the balloon is big, fragile and probably limited lifetime. Subject to weather, ice, lightning, etc. The supports are not at all trivial - picture holding a balloon on a windy day - the wind X tether will tend to push the balloon downwards - this will significantly limit the max wind speed where this can be used. At the same time the tethers need to resist the torque of the turbine - or it needs counter-rotating blades which are less efficient and more complex. You need a large clear area or if the balloon deflates it could land on something doing damage. If multiple balloons are close to each other, a very stiff multi-point support is needed or they will collide if the winds shift. That still doesn't solve the strong wind problem listed above, so the tethers need to have a system to reel in the balloons when bad weather is predicted. The higher wind speed is nice, but its difficult to imagine building one of these that is anywhere near the scale of a large modern windmill.

This is just a dumb idea.

There are very strong winds very high up (30,000'), but the long tethers cause all sorts of problems - and you need a huge clear area around the supports. (imaging dropping 20 kilometers of ultra-strong cable across a city.........(buses, trains etc.....)

Re:hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604793)

Its really difficult to imagine that this is cheaper per power output than a conventional generator.

Alaska is a special case though - there are a good number of communities you can only get to by bush plane. Getting diesel or gas to those places is really expensive. Seems like this could be worth a try.

Re:hm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601875)

No. It didn't occur to ANY of those MIT alumni, their backers, their consultants, or anyone.

You are literally the first person to mention it.

They'd be f***ed without slashdot.

Re:hm... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46601977)

yes, and the answer is - high voltage

Re:hm... (1)

Calinous (985536) | about 4 months ago | (#46602041)

This electrical cable can function as a tether. Maybe a steel cored, twisted aluminium strands cable (as used in medium and voltage transmission) would offer both low electric resistance, high strength, high reliability, ...
(P.S. I have small lengths of that kind of cable at home. It's probably overkill for a 10-houses sized balloon, but it can be built in smaller gauges)

Re:hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603089)

and you are an idiot

The cable need to resist the wind force to make any power, and they are going high to get STRONG winds, so the cable has to be Very f**king strong and resist tangle and twisting, it's not a static cable with static forces, imagine a 20ft croc holding on to your arm and thrashing wildy, then scale that way way up.

So it will be very heavy so you then have to scale your lifting power so the forces then become larger needing a stronger cable which is heavier which then needs more lift which needs stronger heavier cable which needs more lift which needs heavier cable.................

Do you get it now or are you too thick.

Lightning surge (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | about 4 months ago | (#46601961)

And when lightning strikes one of these babies, you get a nice surge of 1.21 Jigawatts.

Being more serious, I think this is a really good idea, but I would think big storms would be the biggest problems for these things. Of course, FTA:

"The largest barrier to implementation right now is the need for a product that is reliable in all weather conditions for long periods of time,"

Re:Lightning surge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602109)

gigawatts is power... joules is energy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvesting_lightning_energy [wikipedia.org] 5 billion joules in single bolt of lightning

Four seconds (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#46602171)

All this means is that it takes four seconds (5 GJ / 1.21 GW) to travel through time.

Re:Four seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603041)

Yeah, but how many parasecs is that?

Ummm.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#46601989)

So helium is free in Alaska? Last I checked, helium is so expensive that $1 a Kwh is going to be cheaper than keeping that thing filled.

Re:Ummm.... (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | about 4 months ago | (#46602123)

I won't comment on whether or not this will work, but in bush Alaska that $1 per Kilowatt Hour is during the prosperous warm times when the fuel to run the diesel generators doesn't have be flow in because of pack ice or a fuel barge delayed because the Coast Guard is holding it for repairs. Now imagine sitting way out on the Aleutian chain where it blows like hell for long periods of time and barges ice over. I once had to wait, through a fuel rationing for a month, for fuel in the middle of winter. One year fuel had to be flown in to McGrath in the interior - gasoline was going for $12 a gallon. Last year, the a town along the inside passage (panhandle) froze over. They were without power for over a month because of the record snow.

Now, I don't know (don't care to fact check helium cost at the moment), but I would compare that to the cost of keeping communities from freezing to death.

Re: Ummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604361)

Why not the usual ground based turbine?

Why helium? (2)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 4 months ago | (#46602007)

Why not hot air? Surely they can mount an electric heat generator if it's going to be producing the stuff anyway. Then they can also regulate the balloons altitude on the fly.

Re:Why helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603655)

what if the wind stops blowing? a hot air design would presumably land, where an external power source would likely need to be used to get it back aloft.

Re:Why helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604075)

Hot air... in Alaska?

Re:Why helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604681)

It just has to be hotter than ambient air, cunt jiggler

Re:Why helium? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 4 months ago | (#46604715)

If the ambient temperature is lower, it makes it even more effective.

Re:Why helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604731)

i am pretty sure Helium buoyancy is many times that of warm air, still I think it's no scalable, and wait until some asshole shoots it with a rifle.

Already posted to Soylent News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602021)

This was posted to Soylent News (a /. fork after the Beta announcement) a couple days go. Some very interesting conversation has already been had over there.

Re:Already posted to Soylent News (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 months ago | (#46602781)

Links [soylentnews.org] are always nice. Since I'm linking to SN, I'll also shout out to Pipedot, S'qute and Technocrat.

Squealeth like a piggy (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#46602035)

"Not in my backyard!" squealeth the rich in Hollywood and Martha's Vinypard.

Re:Squealeth like a piggy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603429)

At least it might be more silent than those murmuring generator blades from hell. (*Edvard Much's Scream face*)

All you need to know (1)

BobK65 (2541842) | about 4 months ago | (#46602073)

about the lunacy of flying turbines has been discussed in several articles by John Brignell over the course of many years. Here is one of them. http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/c... [numberwatch.co.uk]

Re:All you need to know (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46602563)

And yet this team of MIT alumni is still going ahead with their project after 18 months of research and $1.3 million spent. Funny that.

Re:All you need to know (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46602575)

Oops. The project is due to last 18 months. Well, we'll see then, then.

Re:All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602819)

Yes, a clearly existing device can't exist.
Hint: his analysis is concerned with high power turbines at high altitudes.
A 30kW turbine at 1000' is neither.

Re:All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603117)

but has the same fucking problems you dimwit.

Re:All you need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603957)

Yeah, in the same sense a suborbital hop and getting to mars and back have the same fucking problems.

inaccurate (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#46602077)

"Since winds blow stronger and more consistently the higher above the ground you go"
Not true. Eventually you'll hit space.

Re:inaccurate (1)

MightyDrunken (1171335) | about 4 months ago | (#46602207)

Solar wind dude.

Re:inaccurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602445)

That depends on how you define "strong". While even the "slow" component of solar wind travels at hundreds of km/s, the pressure it exerts (and therefore the power you can generate from it) is very low.

Not happy with killing birds, eh. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46602093)

Let's see if we can net a few planes also.

Re:Not happy with killing birds, eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602187)

We dont care about people only birds...

It's a bird. It's a plane. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#46602195)

And after LexCorp has killed birds and planes, this means Mr. Luthor can finally get rid of Cal Elwood, Clark Kent, or whatever that "superman" is calling himself today.

It's a trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602269)

I understand it's for remote use, but with multiple tethers, like a flak balloon, it looks like an aviation disaster waiting to happen. Getting to "remote" locations, especially in Alaska, happens almost exclusively by airplane.

hmph (2)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about 4 months ago | (#46602343)

yeah sure... let's just bash it before it gets anywhere.... so many planes and birds in the fucking frozen deserts of Alaska.... let's go oil mmurica!!

You can get higher (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 4 months ago | (#46602593)

You can even get higher if you use staged balloons. At some point, the cable gets too heavy to support its own weight. If you use multiple stages in the cable, you can make it much longer and therefore catch more wind. I don't know what the optimum altitude for such a balloon is (at some point the reduced air density would make the efficiency decrease with altitude). This principle was already demonstrated with staged sailplanes.

The BAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602609)

...but does it come in black ?

Smells like something? (1)

angularbanjo (1521611) | about 4 months ago | (#46602623)

All I hear are 'breaking' and 'wind' in the same sentence

Re:Smells like something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603237)

Smells like teen spirit!
I find it hard, it's hard to find... Oh well, whatever. Nevermind!

Not highest flying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602633)

Many commercial jet aircraft have pop-out wind turbines to generate power in the event of multiple-engine failure. That makes them the "highest flying."

Marketing BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46602689)

The record claimed (highest altitude turbine) has nothing to do with efficiency, cost or practicality. And no, I didn't RTFA.

Retarded ... or is it 1 April already ?! (1)

fygment (444210) | about 4 months ago | (#46602913)

The technology of blimps is fraught with challenges not least of which are helium's availability, ground interaction (including launch, landing, and tethering/shelter on ground) and a sensitivity to weather. I've worked with a stream-lined tethered blimp 20' long with a camera and radar payload. In 20 knots of wind, the bugger had to be brought down ... not trivial. The whole operation worked best, and safest, in NO WIND. So, the idea of using a tethered high air resistance blimp to supply very little power (~ a dozen homes?!) is ... intellectually challenged. Awesome engineering challenge ... but just dumb.

Plus, what is the BS about 'clean air'. A common wind turbine, on the ground, is just as efficient ... more so, if you account for the demanding infrastructure to support a blimp.

Afterthought: This has to be a military project and the whole Alaska thing is just to give it palatable civilian visibility. You could maybe make a use case for disaster relief or remote military ops ... no you can't even do that 'cause if you could get this dumbass set up in to a location then you could get a generator and fuel in as well, that any idiot could operate and run with minimal supervision. Oh and any enemy wanting to take out your power or know where you are would just find and shoot down the flippin' blimp and then you ... crap! ... who the hell came up with such a seriously flawed concept???? Not MIT, it must be TIM as in a couple of yahoos at TIM Horton's doughnut shop. Is this an early April 1st post?

Interview (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46603085)

A journalist interviewed the wind turbine. His funniest comment was "I'm so high right now!".

carbon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603137)

why don't they use their stupid fucking nanotubez to build a pole to put this on? a rope that stretches into outer space? fine. a 1,000-foot tower? TIME THE FUCK OUT, THAT'S CRAZY.

That's a kite? No. THIS is a kite! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46603241)

What about scaling these things up to around 10 or 100 times the size, fill them with hydrogen, and put them up into the jetstream?

Re:That's a kite? No. THIS is a kite! (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 4 months ago | (#46604207)

Big things cost more. There's probably an optimal size.

There is the high-flying sun (1)

mikewas (119762) | about 4 months ago | (#46603491)

Highest flying? The sun is an "energy generator", and it is quite a bit higher than any blimp/kite/turbine will be.

Combine it... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 months ago | (#46603661)

It's an interesting idea by itself, but it occurs to me you could also combine the platform's capabilities with other needs: e.g. cell towers.

Imagine if every ugly tower was instead a floating power plant...

Don't forget Google... (1)

ryanmt (2634725) | about 4 months ago | (#46603747)

Google bought Makani, which endeavors to produce a kite generator which provides a far larger 'effective' surface to capture wind energy. It is also entirely safe (glider), and doesn't use our precious helium up. Google will get it done... http://www.google.com/makani/ [google.com]

Two big concerns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604031)

#1: The tether wires are what's passing down the juice. That presents two dangers... a live electric line just dangling, and a heavy tether line that should break lose and plummet to the ground. In both cases, I hope there is no houses, people, etc near by.

#2: As with the concern over houses, people, etc... that's also one HELL of a huge lightning rod...

How about airplanes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46604289)

What happens with airplanes and thousands of these baloons?

Yay, progress (1)

musth (901919) | about 4 months ago | (#46604729)

And thus, technology continues to uglify the world.

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