Airborne Wind Turbine's Stunning Test Flights

A new flying wind turbine by Mankani Power recently stole the show as ARPA-E showed off some of its projects. ARPA-E is the Department of Energy's program that invests in high-risk, potential high-gain energy projects.

The experimental generator is a tethered wing that generates power by flying in large circles at altitudes where the wind is stronger. The flying turbine eliminates 90% of the material used in conventional turbines - the huge column that holds land-based blades aloft. Another important factor: while traditional wind energy has been tainted by intermittency, high altitude wind could provide utilities with an energy source that is 75% dependable, making it a base-load energy source.

Before receiving a $3 million ARPA-E grant in 2010, the Mankani wind turbine concept was generously backed and birthed by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Watch a test flight in video panel at right.

Could this technology displace conventional wind power?

Photos: AWT - Mankani Power