Worldchanging reports on a wild new engineering feat from Australian Bryan Roberts. High altitude tethered wind turbines, hanging at 15,000 feet, generate energy from "average" winds at atmospheric heights. Apparently, clusters of 600 units can produce more power than a nuclear power plant and take up a 10x20 mile rectangle of airspace.
Tethered at 15,000
Genius, really and kudos to Bryan for not giving up and operating on a shoestring budget. "A number of years ago. on a very limited budget, together with his Australian colleagues, he built and tested the FLYING ELECTRIC GENERATOR shown in the picture at the upper right generating electricity at an altitude of sixty feet on an exceptionally windy day. He has now designed a Flying Electric Generator, classified as a rotorcraft, using a single tether, designed to operate at an altitude of 15,000 feet and higher where only average winds are sufficient to generate power."
One key question I have: If we have a bunch of these clusters hanging in the sky like mobiles above cribs, will air-traffic controllers go ballistic? I can't imagine guiding 747s and helos around these 200 mile blocks of airspace with 15,000 feet of rope dangling down. However, the sky is that big, so maybe there is a way to work it.