One day, high altitude wind energy may be a viable source to power hydrogen cars, homes and businesses. In the race to come up alternative and renewable forms of energy for the transition away from fossil fuels, several companies are working on ways to harness high altitude winds to supply that energy.
These companies are not working with wind farms, however, such as land-based turbines like those found in Palm Springs, California and elsewhere. These companies are using other methods to generate power by using the winds that are present at altitudes of 10,000 feet and above.
One such company is Sky WindPower Corporation from Ramona, California, which is developing tethered rotorcraft, flying at 15,000 feet and above that generate electricity based upon the exceptional wind currents at high altitudes. At a cost of 2-cents per kilowatt hour these rotorcraft can be used as a cost-effective way to electrolyze water into hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles.
Laddermill is another kind of high altitude wind energy that is being developed by Delft University in the Netherlands. The Laddermill system uses a series of high altitude kites, linked together by a cable to form a loop. The motion of the kites turns the cable, which is connected to a drive wheel on a generator, creating electricity. This electricity can then also be used to electrolyze water in hydrogen.
Magenn Power Air Rotor System (MARS) out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has developed a lighter-than-air, helium-filled tethered rotor system that rotates along its axis in response to high altitude winds. This floating air rotor generates electricity and sends it down the tether to the ground equipment. MARS has entered into an agreement with Krystal Planet, who will market the 4 kw unit.
Other companies who are also involved in developing high altitude wind energy generators include Briza Technologies and the Kite Wind Generator project funded by the Italian government.
With peak oil a couple of years away and declining supplies imminent, countries will need to develop many alternative and preferably renewable methods for generating energy. High altitude wind energy will one day be an important part of the energy puzzle that will need to be solved in order to replace fossil fuels in our worldwide energy system.