Monday, June 9, 2008

Wind Power Takes to The Skies


Flying wind turbines? Ontario-based Magenn Power Inc. is working on a prototype for a high-flying air rotor system that could double the efficiency of its grounded counterparts. The Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) is basically a helium-filled balloon, tethered to the grid by a winch that can adjust its height to altitudes of up to 1,000 ft. -- allowing the MARS to capitalize on the stronger winds above the reach of conventional tower-style turbines.

Since the design of these rotors requires so little ground space, wind farms could be placed much closer to the commercial and residential centers that they power, reducing the need for costly transmission lines. Also, by doubling the efficiency of these turbine, Magenn could effectively reduce the cost of a kWh by half, making these babies ideal for communities that are looking for a lower-commitment renewable alternative to fossil-fuels.

Yet another advantage that these floating turbines would hold over the tower-types is their mobility. MARS turbines could be readjusted to exploit changing wind patterns, or they could be ideal for providing temporary power in emergency situations.

Since the MARS requires less-intense installation and maintenance procedures, these floating generators could become a great resource for remote locations like cabins, scientific outposts, or even oil platforms that now rely on diesel generators. Magenn also claims that their systems will be cheaper in terms of energy output than other wind options, but the technology is still in the R&D phase -- so it's a little too early to place an order. They're hoping to ship their first MARS 10-25 kW by 2010.

[via Inhabitat]

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