More Hazards In The Sky?


If the thought of kite strings and blimp tethers sharing your airspace gives you the jitters, just imagine if this project comes true — the deployment of massive wind generators in the jet stream, with cables stretching thousands of feet to the surface. The generators would take advantage of the high speeds of winds aloft to create electricity. Just a tiny fraction of the power available there could provide all of the world’s energy needs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Bob Thresher, of the U.S. Department of Energy, told the Chronicle that the biggest obstacles may not be technical, but financial. “There’s a tremendous advantage in going up [toward the jet stream] because there’s much more energetic winds,” he said. However, “you have to be able do it very cheaply because the cost of [ground-based] wind energy has come down so dramatically, it’s becoming competitive with conventional sources.” Small versions of the system could be used to supply basic services to remote villages where there is currently no power supply — and presumably, few conflicts with air traffic. “In India alone there are a million villages without power,” said Mac Brown, CEO of Magenn, a Canadian company that is developing the technology. “Our target market is that village which might have 50 or 60 or 70 huts. All they want is one or two lights in a hut, an electric water pump, and a TV and VCR for the village school. And they want a refrigerator for medicine, for when the doctor stops in once a month.”