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The Skys No Limit

Pilot trials are due to begin in India in 2012 for an ambitious and innovative project which could harness the power of the winds at over 30,000ft. At that height they blow at over 200mph, so it’s a goal worth pursuing to add to the world’s growing renewable energy portfolio and help ease the pressure on fossil fuels. PES investigates…

SkyMill Energy is a relatively small US/Indian company attempting to harness those limitless high-altitude jet-stream winds, although they are not the first to attempt this ambitious feat. Other ventures used tethered kites but SkyMill think they may have solved the problems by using a remote small-scale rotary-lift aerial vehicle, similar to a conventional helicopter, attached to a generator on the ground. If successful, the rewards are measureless: vast renewable energy with no pollution and delivered by a comparatively straightforward technology and permanently available materials.

Speaking from the company’s HQ at Friday Harbor in Washington State, its president, Grant Calverley, told PES the project’s conception was unique. “We are confident it holds great potential especially for the Middle East and Asia,” he said. India and China have some of the best winds in the world and also have the greatest needs for new power. The Middle East and Asian jet stream blows for about five to six winter months a year and this amount of wind energy contains enough power to some day power all of India and China for the winter months.

“There are winds which cover the entire northern half of India and blow in excess of 110 knots or around 200km/hr 24/7 throughout the winter. This is huge power.” Together with his Indian colleague, Chetan Kumar, Mr Calverley, a graduate of the University of California in San Diego, has recently been travelling throughout the Indian sub-continent in order to establish a development group of aerospace engineers. “We’re looking for major Indian investment partners, after visiting IIT Bombay, the National Wind Tunnel test facility at IIT Kanpur, as well as Pune and a VCcircle clean-tech investment forum in New Delhi,” he said.


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