High Altitude Wind Power Gets Analyzed

Wind turbines has come a long way over the centuries. Today, offshore wind farm technology is making it possible to generate clean energy close to areas of high population density and high demand–the coasts.

But, what if a technology existed that could harness wind resources at over 1.2 miles above the earth? GL Garrad Hassan, an international renewable energy consultancy firm, has issued the first market report analyzing the fascinating new industry of High Altitude Wind Energy (HAWE). HAWE systems are designed to harness the faster, more stable air currents beyond the reach of tower-based turbines, and, hopefully, generate cheaper and more abundant electricity than current wind technology.

Technically, a HAWE system, like this one we covered last year from Joby Energy, is basically a tethered object flying at high altitude which uses a mechanical system to harness the kinetic energy from the wind to generate electricity. The report looks at the energy potential of high altitude winds, the current HAWE technologies’ market potential, and the technical and regulatory challenges faced by the nascent industry.

The wind turbines industry continues to move offshore, with onshore wind farm locations often limited in regions with growing energy demand. High altitude systems seem promising in terms of offshore application as they could overcome some of the currently challenging hurdles. The report looks at the potential of HAWE systems in offshore regions, especially where water depth plays a role in the installation of conventional turbine systems. Challenges facing the systems and the current and possible regulatory environmental are analysed in terms of their future commercial applications; and the political and legal frameworks, across multiple regional energy markets, with the potential to affect high altitude technology application are outlined.

HAWE systems have the potential to take energy generation from wind into a new dimension; unlocking resources with far greater potential energy than so far realised. With investment bringing more visibility to the industry, and the first full scale systems soon on the horizon the GL Garrad Hassan report is a valuable tool for those seeking to gain an overview of this new market segment.

By José Santamarta, www.gl-garradhassan.com