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August 22, 2005



I discovered Sky Power myself a few weeks ago (right before it got all the press in Wired and Popular Science) and this idea seems (almost literally) pie in the sky but if they can pull it off, I'd welcome it. Obviously there is tremendous wind potential in high elevations and it would be incredible if we could harvest this resource.

A similar idea would be to sink ocean current powered turbines teathered to the sea floor to harvest the tremendous current potential of the gulf stream or other major currents (also much more consistent and high velocity than normal current areas). It seems like it would be easier to float such turbines in the water at the correct depth than to get these autogyros reliably flying at 30,000 feet (not to mention it would pose much less of a navigation hazard - not NEARLY as many submarines cruzing around at those depths than there are airplanes at 30,000 ft) but perhaps both ideas will eventually be explored and utilized. I dont know of any companies trying to comercialize this idea but it certainly seems as feasable as Sky Power's idea.

On a final note, as a friend of mine once noted, the concept of an autogyro is, impossibly cool! Cheers...


I try to publish posts on subjects that are interesting and imaginative, if I think that they have any possibility of fruition. Some of them I hope will be the ones that have a big payoff. We have a serious problem in developing low cost technology to replace oil. Many of our greatest inventions were dismissed when first suggested. While this one may seem to be pretty far out, it is claimed to be a very low cost total replacement for our electrical generating needs and has some engineering basis. Even if it fails it may spark an idea for someone else. I am glad to do my small part in spreading the word on these ideas.

Jim for The Energy Blog

Michael Cain

I would worry less about air traffic and more about severe weather. Large portions of Europe are off limits to overflights, and they seem to do just fine. Airline navigation is certainly good enough to avoid areas where such devices are tethered. General aviation -- ie, small low-flying private aircraft -- may be more of a problem.

OTOH, most areas of the US are subject to large thunderstorms at some point in the year. The largest of these easily reach above 30,000 feet, and come with heavy-duty turbulence, lightning, and the ability to deposit large amounts of ice on exposed surfaces. No one, aside from hurricane chasers in specially fitted planes, messes with the inside of a big thunderstorm.


FEGs are designed to be winched down to the ground if weather conditions are serious enough. They have to have this capability for maintence also. I would think that weather condititions would be a large factor in determining the siting of FEGs. Their certainly is some experience with the 15 craft that are looking for drug trafic that would be applicable. Initially I would think they would be locacted in areas having the least severe weather and then as they gain experience and improve reliability they could expand their area of deployment. Although the concept sounds nice their would be a long learning curve to go through which will cost a lot of money that they do not have now. Their sucess will depend on how well financed they can be and how well the first few flights perform. They say they need only $4 million dollars to build their prototype, which is not a lot of money for venture capitalists these days, the expenses for testing and modifying the prototype could well add another $2-$4 million and then they have to prototype their larger production model, etc - what they need right now appears to be a good business plan.

Jim for The Energy Blog

Don Bongaards

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