WhoWhatWhy Ideas Dept: Flying Windmills

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Check out these designs for Flying Electric Generator (FEG) technology, or Flying Windmills.

Advocates assert that

High Altitude Wind Power uses flying electric generator (FEG) technology in the form of what have been more popularly called flying windmills, is a proposed renewable energy project over rural or low-populated areas, to produce around 12,000 MW of electricity with only 600 well-clustered rotorcraft kites that use only simple autogyro physics to generate far more kinetic energy than a nuclear plant can.

…Flying windmills appear to be 90 percent more energy efficient in wind tunnel tests than their land-based counterparts…due to simple yet constantly abundant and effective high altitude wind power, available only 15,000 feet in the air by way of clustered rotor craft kites.

Let’s hear from our science-minded readers on this!

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14 responses to “WhoWhatWhy Ideas Dept: Flying Windmills”

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  3. PatTbbs says:

    So these devices are powered by wind? Amazing! Rif, watch the video provided by ADCuthbertson below

  4. clay says:

    O Jeeze… anything to keep us proudly driving Escalades!

  5. Rif says:

    And how much would a cable several kilometers long weigh? I do not think it will be able to lift its own cable.

    • Richard Johns says:

      That’s a good point.  I don’t know what voltage they’d be using, but suppose it’s 10,000 volts.  Then, for 3.4MW, you’d be looking at over 300 Amps, and so need a copper cable about a half-inch (1.25cm) diameter.  At 4,500 m long, such a cable would weigh about 5,000 Kg.  That compares to 9,000 Kg for the FEG itself, which is substantial.  But it doesn’t seem impossible.

      They may, of course, be running the power down at a higher voltage.  At 100,000V the cable weight would be only half a tonne.  But do we want 100 of these “kites” flying around in a small area, dangling cables at 100,000V?  I’m a little sceptical.

    • ADCuthbertson says:

      Some (more commercial) methods do not actually require a cable, technically just rope would suffice as it is not needed to transfer electrical current as Richard Johns is suggesting. Of the companies developing this technology, SkySails seem to have the best demonstration of how it works – check out this video: http://www.skysails.info/english/power/

  6. ADCuthbertson says:

    Here’s a quick video showing how one might look in action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sKcp3h0VlK0#!

  7. Richard Johns says:

    I guess there’ll be concerns about planes hitting them, and them crashing into the ground.  They say that they’ll need no-fly zones around them, and to be sited away from population centres.

    Encouragingly, the COE is estimated at only around 2 cents per kwh, for an array of FEGs of 3.4 MW each (each weighing 9 tonnes!).  That’s competitive with fossil fuels.  I can’t say if that’s a reasonable estimate though.

  8. D. Janu says:

    not sure, what about the birds and insects?