Friday, November 06, 2009

Go Fly A Kite!

And from the news of the weird file, I commend to your attention, David Baker's piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today. (I suspect Baker had some fun with this one.)

Adding a new twist to wind energy, several companies have come out with prototype generators that seek to capitalize on high altitude wind, which is more reliable than wind patterns closer to the ground.
These efforts are, depending on your point of view, entrepreneurial, innovative, or just plane strange, but they include a giant kite, a massive inflatable ball, a skeltal, unmanned "helicopter," and a serpent.

Each would be tethered to the ground and float 1,000 feet or more (in the case of the helicopter thingy, Baker notes it could go as high as 24,000 feet), and transmit power to the ground via cables.

The need for "no fly zones" seems obvious, and that these inventions would have great difficulty transmitting power 24,000 feet to the ground and then who-knows-how-far to get the power into the grid, seems even more obvious.

However, such technology might be viable for isolated, remote areas such as mining camps and towns in the middle of nowhere.

Before I sound too snarky, I'll invoke the old business school cliche that "there are no bad ideas in brainstorming" so we'll give these inventors an "A for effort" and take a (long) wait and see position as to the viability of their technologies.