How to Make a Wind Turbine That Flies

Last week, we met Corwin Hardham, the CEO of Makani Windpower, which is at work on a revolutionary airborne wind turbine. This week, I want you to actually see how the turbine works. Below, you'll find the final two installments of my interview with Hardham and some shots of the actual wing, as they call it.

In the first video, Hardham describes the "transformational" turbine, but I think it's worth retracing how far they've come from the original vision. Makani was founded by windsurfers, so their initial designs were modeled on the kites that they knew. They had soft bodies and were very, very light. But as they got farther along the innovation path, they found that a rigid body wing was the only way that they could generate consistent power. So, instead of making a kite, they essentially had to build a plane. But that plane had to be able to do vertical takeoffs and landings all by itself, like a drone.

But Makani's team stuck with it because, as you see in the final segment of my interview with Hardham, they believe they have two key advantages in the long renewable energy future. First, their wing takes far less material than do traditional wind turbines. That means they have a hedge against materials costs in a world that could experience constraints in future years. Second, their wing could be deployed more easily and cheaper in offshore installations, allowing humanity to tap the terawatts of wind energy that blow off our shores.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In