It might look like something from a sci-fi film, but this huge floating device is actually set to provide green electricity and Wi-Fi to residents of the remote city of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Designed and constructed by MIT startup Altaeros Energies, this futuristic floating marvel is a new type of airborne wind turbine dubbed the BAT – or Buoyant Airborne Turbine, if you prefer.
We’ve covered several varieties of airborne turbine in the past, including the Highest Wind power station, which works on a glider-and-tether system, and the Makani Power winged turbine, which was bought outright by Google around a year ago.
However, both of those designs seemed years away. Altaeros Energies are confident that the BAT is a green commercial energy source that’s ready for now.
Why are they so confident?
Well, The Alaska Energy Authority has awarded Altaeros a $1.3 million grant to test the design over the course of 18 months – meaning this huge piece of apparatus could be hovering over the snow-covered state within the next couple of years.
Altaeros Energies are confident their device will be a success, having already tested the device at altitudes of over 1,000 feet where wind speeds are up to eight times what you’ll find at ground level.
Filled with helium, the creators say that the BAT is capable of producing twice the energy of a grounded turbine in the same location – as well as using it’s altitude to increase data coverage, mobile phone signal coverage areas and even house a weather station. It even feeds directly into the energy grid using cables which run down it’s tether.
Altaeros Energies say the trial period in Alaska will be vital in making sure the device is ready for action in the future, as they envision the BAT becoming a staple for remote regions around the world where commercial energy costs are notoriously high.