A study by Australian, American and Canadian scientists suggests that high-altitude wind power could provide a major source of renewable energy in years to come.
Their paper, in the journal IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, provides detailed technical specifications for a prototype flying wind turbine that could generate far more energy than a ground-based turbine.
The authors, led by Sydney-based University of Technology professor B.W. Roberts, wrote that jet stream winds have 10 to 100 times the energy of winds close to the ground.
"This is the highest power density for a large renewable energy resource anywhere on earth," they wrote.
The flying wind turbine they described amounts to a tethered gyrocopter flying as a kite, whose spinning blades would generate both lift and electricity. The lift keeps the gyrocopter in the air, and the electricity is transmitted down the tether to be used on the ground.