Ready to partner with SIDS in taking wind energy to new heights
Switching to renewable energy sources is a promising prospect for small island developing States (SIDS) as so many are heavily affected by the high and volatile prices of fossil fuels. Importantly, SIDS have set ambitious goals – under the 2012 Barbados Declaration for Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS – to boost energy efficiency and achieve – in some cases – 100% renewable energy use. Samoa for instance announced in mid-2015 its goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2017. SIDS are amongst the most ardent voices on the impacts of climate change on islands and the world at large, and are leading the call for a rapid transition to renewable energy as an important contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Through durable partnerships with all stakeholders, the transition from fossil fuels remains an achievable goal for these countries in a very short space of time.
Altaeros Energies is among the companies taking wind energy to new heights and leading the charge on developing innovative solutions to harnessing wind energy. Keenly aware of both the challenges and potential of SIDS to transition to renewable energy sources, Altaeros Energies has demonstrated a keen interest in working with islands to transition to cost effective state-of-the-art wind energy solutions.
The company was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010 with the mission to deploy the world’s first commercial airborne wind turbine to harness the abundant energy in strong, steady winds at higher altitudes. Altaeros’ Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) leverages proven aerospace technology to lift a wind turbine into the strong, consistent winds beyond the reach of traditional towers. The BAT is completely automated, rapidly deployable and can safely and effectively bring wind power to remote sites that use expensive fossil fuel electricity.
At the 2014 Private Sector Partnerships Forum in Apia, Samoa, Altaeros CEO Ben Glass demonstrated the company’s BAT technology during the Forum’s Renewable Energy session. The BAT is particularly suited to islands not only as it is cost-effective but also rapidly deployable including in remote locations and outer islands. The BAT is also capable of accommodating communications equipment, in effect doubling as a communications tower. The ease of deployment also means that in the event of a cyclone, the system can be easily brought down and stored safely. Following a natural disaster, the BAT can be immediately deployed; restoring power and communications to isolated communities. With the BAT’s deployed height of around 300 metres, another potential application for SIDS is monitoring illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU); a major issue where many SIDS lack the capacity and resources to effectively enforce.
Further indicating the interest of Altaeros Energies to partner with SIDS, CEO Ben Glass participated as a panellist at the meeting of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2015. The round table discussion focused on the theme of “The SAMOA Pathway: translating vision to action”. Mr. Glass provided an update on progress made by the company since the private sector forum in Samoa and continued to emphasize their willingness to partner with interested SIDS.
In a matter of a few short years, Altaeros Energies has received funding towards wind turbine technology development from a number of sources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the California Energy Commission, the Maine Technology Institute, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Cleantech Innovations New England, and the Alaska Energy Authority. The company received the 2011 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize and recently in December 2014, received a US$ 7 million investment from SoftBank to support the continued development and commercialization of its Buoyant Airborne Turbine technology.
To learn more, visit the Altaeros Energies website.
Featured Photo Credit: Valentin Angerer/Altaeros Energies