Skip to comments.Two Google efforts - solar thermal and high-altitude wind
Posted on 11/28/2007 1:13:18 PM PST by Uncledave
Google's tastes in alternative energy run the gamut from proven technologies to ideas that haven't left the lab. Two ideas the company already is exploring:
One of the companies Google touted Tuesday, eSolar of Pasadena, develops solar power plants large enough to light a small city.
The basic idea is simple enough. An array of mirrors focuses sunlight on a tower, generating intense heat. That heat, carried by a liquid flowing through the tower, is used to generate steam. The steam turns a turbine and produces electricity.
... But interest in the technology languished for years when electricity prices were low.
Now utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are signing contracts with companies eager to build the next generation of solar thermal plants...
The challenge is to lower the cost. With eSolar's technology, the towers are mass-produced and shipped to construction sites largely assembled, and the mirror arrays follow a standard design. That should cut installation time and cost. The company boasts that it can design plants ranging from 25 megawatts to 500 megawatts, enough to power 375,000 homes.
The problem with windmills is that sometimes the wind simply doesn't blow. But climb a mile or two into the atmosphere, and the wind turns into a constant, powerful force.
Alameda startup Makani Power, another Google partner, wants to tap that energy. The company won't say how, refusing to divulge details of its technology and plans. But several Makani executives boast experience with designing kites and sails.
Other researchers have proposed kites and helicopter-like machines that can stay aloft for weeks or months. The idea is to create a flying turbine that would send its power back to Earth through some kind of tether.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
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I simple don’t get the idea of a kite windmill actually being light enough to fly.
Maybe I’m being naive, but it seems to me having kites flying at that altitude would drastically increase the probability of aircraft accidents. If the aircraft didn’t hit the kite, it would snag the tether.
Well duh, a portion of the wind energy generated from the big kite would power the anti-gravity forcefield thingies.
Here’s the Makani Power team: http://www.makanipower.com/team.html
Looks like a team of surfers. But I sure wish em luck!
Such kites would certainly have to be placed outside of airline corridors. I think they are an extremely stoopid idea that will never fly, the kites that is. However I LOVE normal ole ground based horizontal axis windmills.
I bet Vestas and GE wind are all over these things. /sarcasm.
But seriously, a kiddie kite weighing a pound or two stay afloat in nominal ground-level wind speeds.
High altitude wind speeds are in the 100mph vicinity, and fairly constant. With having basically zero knowledge of anything to do with engineering, I can envision that a device with enough surface area and the right aerodynamics can generate enough lift to keep a few hundred pounds of machinery aloft (putting aside issues like tethering, transmitting power, safety, etc)
A glider or hang-glider weighing whatever the heck it does “falls” very slowly.
</blathering without expertise>
..there was a hailstorm at Sandia. Mirrors, you know.
(Seven Years of Bad Luck)*(Many mirrors).
See a very cool micrwind generator here...
There was a big solar plant near Bagdad, CA that went belly-up, and its prototype, the Solar Tower at Sandia Labs, is also out of commission.
They are very pretty in operation, with bright beams of light (mirror spillover) visible in the sky.
Perhaps smaller operations will be more manageable.
My 4 KW generator weighs a couple of hundred pounds. So we remove the 2 cylinder engine, that leaves about 150# or so. Surely newer inverter types are more efficient, so let's be generous and say 4KW/ hundred pounds of payload. 40 W/Pound.
Now all we need is a bean counter to chime in and give a Go/No go.
For sh**s and giggles, can anyone here make an informed guess about how much weight can be carried aloft in 100mph wind per square meter of an efficient airfoil?
Surfers with PhDs from Caltech, MIT and Stanford...
Yep, smart dudes, too. That’s a large team they’ve got, if they’re all FT. Google cash can keep you going a while, though. I’d love to see them put out something big!
Many new homeowners look into the possibility of equipping their new homes with solar batteries, and almost all give up the idea because of the upfront costs. Google could offer grants to homeowners who go for solar, and the resulting spilloff could create competition with the battery-makers. That would help both homeowners, the environment, and business.
There’s much that could be done, on an individual homeowner level and higher up the grid. For example, if a cloudy country such as Germany can produce so much of the world’s solar generated power, think how much our southern states could produce if we were willing to make it feasible.
SPF 500+ will more likely be cooking oil. Boss...Are you done yet? Employee...I think so, this thing in my belly button just popped out.
Besides high altitude kites/blimps as electricity generating windmills, why not moisture/water collection from passing cloud banks as well? Think of the high and dry northern plains like Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, the Dakotas, Montana, they need WATER more than they need electricity. A moisture-sucking mesh-kite would be just what’s needed.