- The helium-filled, inflatable (can-shaped) shell lifts the turbine up to high altitudes where it passively aligns with winds that are stronger and more consistent than those reached by traditional tower-mounted turbines.
- The turbine itself is a lightweight, conventional three-blade, horizontal axis system that’s fixed within the shell.
- High strength tethers hold the BAT steady and send electricity down to the ground.
- The shell is tethered to the portable ground station, which includes an autonomous control system and equipment that conditions the power produced by the turbine before it goes out to the microgrid or grid connection.
- The lifting technology is adapted from aerostats (the industrial cousin of the blimp), which have been used for decades to lift heavy communications and monitoring equipment into the air. Aerostats are rated to withstand hurricane-level winds and they include safety features that ensure a slow descent to the ground.
Last year, the company tested a BAT prototype in 45 mph winds and at a height of 500 feet at a test site in Maine. For this new 1,000-foot test, BAT will be over 275 feet taller than the current record holder for the highest wind turbine: Vestas V164-8.0-MW, with a with a hub height of 460 feet and blade tips stretching over 720 feet high. A prototype was recently installed at the Danish National Test Center for Large Wind Turbines in Østerild. Why so high flying and transportable? IEEE explains:
Unlike its earth-bound brethren, the airborne turbine is not intended to supply power for large electric grids. Instead, its sweet spot is serving far-flung villages, military bases, mines, or disaster zones.