Research at RMIT University proposes a method to harness high altitude wind power

While alternate energy is taking off at a pretty brisk pace, solar energy is far ahead of the other popular renewable energy source; wind. There are several reasons for this growing gap between the two alternate energy sources. Wind energy is viewed as a burden by many since it is highly unreliable in most parts of the globe and those living in big cities and gated communities feel that a wind turbine is an eye-soar and a constant noise source. Modern wind turbine designs are changing part of that perception, but what really will help propel wind energy forward in a huge way is high altitude wind power. And Dr Dylan Thorpe at RMIT University has demonstrated the untapped potential and feasibility of high altitude wind power (HAWP) using a unique prototype.

Harnessing wind energy at high altitude

Dr Dylan Thorpe decided to work on a prototype system that would capture high altitude wind power for his doctorate and he succeeded in his attempt by using a system of controlled kites and tethered gliders. The small-scale prototype also used a new winching system as the ones that are already in place would have not worked with this new method of capturing wind power. We always wondered how these kites and glider models would capture wind power using conventional winching systems and Dr Thorpe seemingly has found a way out of this predicament.

While the exact details of the system are not yet known, using lightweight gliders that are attached to a cable back to ground control, one can apparently harvest huge amounts of wind energy. It is a well known fact that at high altitudes the wind flow is far more consistent and the velocities are a lot higher. In fact scientific data proves that even a fraction of HAWP could power the entire planet. The problem is with getting the system in place that can get the job done in an efficient and cost effective fashion. Research like that of Dr Dylan Thorpe will help scientific community achieve this goal in sooner than later.

Via: rmit