Offshore, Onshore, Opinion & Commentary, Wind Power

Energy Cast Podcast: Airborne wind energy; “power without the tower”

Windlife Prototype
Prototype Windlift unit.Credit: Windlift

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

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Airborne wind energy, is essentially “power without the tower.”  This posits an energy source that is light on its feet, unlike conventional wind which requires cranes and other heavy equipment for setup.

The airborne wind family consists of Aerodynamic and Aerostat varieties, with the former being wing-shaped, and the latter held aloft by balloons, for instance.

Our guest, CEO/Founder Rob Creighton of Windlift, has developed several Aerodynamic models.  He began with a “reel-in, reel-out” design, which generated power on the ground through the motion of a flying drone pulling a tether.  Rob says they were too hard to manage.

The current design consists of 4 turbine/propellers, that take off similar to a quad-copter drone, and can fly and land through computer controls.  The ideal flight pattern is a figure-8, and Rob says his design can gather more wind energy than a stationary turbine because the drone is able to fly across the wind.

I sat down with Rob at his office/warehouse in Raleigh, NC.  We discussed the potential of this energy, which is getting the most attention from the U.S. military, who could conceivably use this energy source to offset expensive diesel-powered generators.

Rob and his team have developed a sophisticated flight-control software, and his next step is to fully-fund a working prototype.  We wish him the best! (This article was originally posted in September 2017).

Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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