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

Windlife Prototype
Prototype Windlift unit.

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.

Click below to listen to the full episode:

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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Jay Dauenhauer is a project manager based in Charlotte, NC. He currently serves as a PM developing transmission projects. For the past 7 years, Jay led water treatment and recycling projects for Oil & Gas operations. Jay's first foray in the energy sector was as a media analyst for TXU Energy during the $45B leveraged buyout of that utility in 2007. He then served as Executive Director of the Clean Coal Technology Foundation of Texas, working with stakeholders to pass clean energy legislation for the state. A Louisiana native and proud graduate of LSU, his career began as a TV news producer before transitioning into the energy sector. Back behind the mic, Jay hopes to bring his experience working across several energy sectors to you in a program designed to be accessible to both the public and industry insiders.

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