What's New in the Windfair World - The Altaeros Buoyant Airborne Wind Turbine

Altaeros Energies harnesses high altitude winds to deploy low-cost power

The Altaeros Buoyant Airborne Wind TurbineThe Altaeros Buoyant Airborne Wind Turbine


Altaeros’ wind turbines, called Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BATs) technology can fly higher than traditional wind towers and go up to 2,000 meters above ground. Since they don’t need to be installed on the ground, BATs can be used in more locations than wind towers. Altaeros claims that BATs can “significantly [reduce] the cost of electricity for remote sites,” as well as deliver equipment and telecommunications services to remote locations.

Let us take a closer look at Alateros' wind turbines.

High Altitude Wind

High altitude winds are one of the largest untapped renewable resources in the world. Professor Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institute for Science at Stanford University published research on the sector and concluded; “There is enough energy in high altitude winds to power civilization 100 times over.” High altitude winds are more consistent and average around twice the velocity, with five to eight times the power density, than those found near ground-level. In the U.S. alone, over 60% of potential wind sites for tower-mounted systems were found to be uneconomical. The advent of airborne wind technology holds the potential to bring affordable wind energy to these sites.

BAT: The Buoyant Airborne Turbine

The Altaeros BAT integrates proven aerospace and wind turbine technology. The BAT lifting platform is adapted from tethered aerostats, which have reliably lifted heavy communications and monitoring equipment high into the air for decades. The Altaeros BAT integrates four main components:

  • Shell - A proprietary helium-filled shell made from high performance, industrial fabrics that lifts the turbine up and stabilizes it in the air.
  • Turbine - A lightweight conventional three-blade, horizontal axis wind turbine fixed within the shell.
  • Tethers – The lightweight, high strength tethers hold the turbine in place in all weather conditions and transmit power to the ground.
  • Ground Station - The portable ground station is rapidly deployed from a shipping container and includes an autonomous control system and power conditioning equipment.

Product Concept


Made of gas-tight and durable fabric, the patented shell is inflated with helium. The shell passively aligns into changing winds while channeling wind through the turbine. Aerodynamic lift combines with buoyant lift to keep the Altaeros BAT aloft in both strong and weak winds. The shell also provides an airborne platform for customers to add communication, camera, or other sensor equipment to furnish additional remote services.


The lightweight, horizontal-axis turbine adapts conventional, proven architecture used in the thousands of efficient wind turbines that are currently deployed around the world. The turbine generates electricity both when airborne and while docked on the ground.


Tethers are used to connect the shell and turbine to winches on the portable ground station. Tether control is automated to adjust turbine altitude, stabilize the turbine in the air, and provide an electrical connection to send power from the turbine to the ground. The BAT’s autonomous control system periodically adjusts based on changing winds to keep the turbine at the optimal altitude for peak energy output and minimal structural loads.

Ground Station

The ground station is built onto a trailer platform for easy transport. Winches on the ground station control tether speed and length, and aligns with the shell to prevent tethers from tangling. Landing rails safely secure the envelope while docked. The power produced by the turbine is conditioned on the ground station before interfacing with a microgrid, grid connection, or customer equipment.

Customer Value

The Altaeros BAT offers a high capacity, flexible, rapidly deployable power solution for customers facing high or volatile electricity costs. Once our renewable energy solution is deployed, it generates immediate savings by displacing more expensive sources of energy such as diesel fuel used in remote power generators.

The Altaeros BAT is designed for customers in the following sectors:

  • Rural communities
  • Island and arctic communities
  • Mining and Oil & Gas sectors
  • Agriculture sector
  • Entertainment sector
  • Emergency response and disaster relief
  • Military sites
  • Offshore power (in development)


High Capacity Power

Operating up to 600 meters, the Altaeros BAT generates over twice the energy of similarly rated tower-mounted wind turbines. The power output from high altitude winds is smooth, consistent, and easy to integrate into existing remote power systems.

Siting and Impact

The Altaeros BAT opens low cost wind energy to sites that have poor ground winds or challenging logistics. The Altaeros BAT also minimizes human and environmental impact when compared to conventional tower-mounted wind turbines.

Automated and Reliable Operations

Autonomous controls optimize energy generation and manage the docking of equipment to protect it during severe weather. The turbine operates continuously with no crew and can be monitored remotely, requiring periodic maintenance checks in line with existing remote equipment.

Low Cost

The Altaeros BAT reduces the second largest cost of wind energy – the installation and transport cost – by up to 90 percent, through a containerized deployment that does not require a tower, crane, or cement foundation. Combined with significant increases in energy output, and flexible deployment options, the BAT is designed to significantly reduce the levelized cost of energy for remote power customers.

Mobility and Rapid Deployment

The Altaeros BAT is shipped in two standard containers and can be installed and producing power in under twenty-four hours. Easy transport, setup, and redeployment offers new mobility that is not feasible with tower-mounted wind turbines.

Additional Revenue from Airborne Services

Much like other tethered aerostats, the Altaeros BAT can lift additional communication, surveillance, and sensory equipment alongside the turbine to provide additional services for remote sites. The BAT provides a line of sight over 60 miles in any direction, offering a powerful platform that fixed towers cannot reach. The addition of payload equipment does not affect the stability or power output of the system.

Check out the videos below for good video screening of the BAT!

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Altaeros Energies / Video: Credit Bloomberg
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist / by Altaeros Energies Staff

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