The Ring

2010/11 Undergraduate Research Scholar: Heshan Fernando

Tue, 2011-04-12 10:24

Heshan Fernando.
Heshan Fernando (mechanical engineering). Photo: Marg MacQuarrie

Some drawbacks of current wind turbines are that they are expensive to manufacture, they need to be built on a very large scale to produce a decent amount of power, and they need to be placed on very tall towers to take advantage of higher wind speeds at high altitudes.The height of these towers is limited by the strength of materials, and the tallest towers only reach heights of about 100m. There is a vast amount of untapped wind energy available at elevations several hundred meters above the current limit. Several companies are now looking into High Altitude Wind Power (HAWP) as an alternative wind turbine technology. These turbines are kite-based, rotor-based (similar to a helicopter), and balloon/blimp-based. There is a potential for some of these technologies to harness more power out of the wind at a cheaper cost. My research project looks into the potential of these HAWPs as an alternative wind technology and compare them to currently available wind turbines.