Wind-prospecting balloon could seek out locations for turbines


May 18, 2012

The University of Barcelona's Bernat Codina and Andriy Lyasota study data from the wind-prospecting balloon

The University of Barcelona's Bernat Codina and Andriy Lyasota study data from the wind-prospecting balloon

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There’s wind in that thar sky ... That’s the sort of thing that – conceivably – might be wistfully said by someone who is tasked with looking for locations in which to locate wind turbines. Their job could soon be getting a little easier, however, thanks to a new balloon-based wind-prospecting system.

The prototype, which is being developed by a team at the University of Barcelona, consists of a tethered helium balloon that carries a four-kilogram (8.8-lb) sensor module. That balloon is three meters (9.8 feet) long, and has a shape that’s “similar to a saddled seabream” – that’s a type of fish. Such a distinctive design allows it to withstand wind gusts of up to 150 km/h (93 mph). It can be raised to a maximum height of 150 meters (492 feet), on a cable with a breaking strength of 600 kilograms (1,323 lbs).

The idea is that the balloon could be tethered to a buoy in marine environments, then moved around to record the strength and consistency of the wind in different locations, and at different altitudes. Data collected by the sensor module can be sent via Wi-Fi to a land-based monitoring and recording unit. Anti-collision lights on the balloon could allow it to remain aloft indefinitely.

According to the researchers, marine wind prospecting is presently carried out by constructing measurement systems such as meteorological towers on fixed platforms in the ocean. The balloon would reportedly be much less expensive to implement, and have less environmental impact on the seabed.

While preliminary tests of the system have been very promising, the team is still trying to determine if the balloon and module could withstand the rigors of spending up to a year in constant use.

Source: University of Barcelona

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Several years from now, removal of wind turbines will be big business. Plentiful nuclear power that actually generates electricity - with a fraction of the footprint of wind, will allow us to see the environment returned to it's pre Eco-Greenie state.

Already they're being turned off and taken down in Scotland and France where taxpayer subsidies have run out for 'alternative energy'.

Todd Dunning

Oh Todd, always banging the drum for the brown parade.

France has a very powerful and frightened nuclear lobby and as far as Scotland goes Donal trump is the only one interested in taking down the wind generators there because they're putting them up in front of the land he just bought. It's a pretty funny article about him testifying in Scottish Parliment, here's an excerpt.

When challenged to produce hard evidence about his claims on the negative impact of turbines, Trump said: "I am the evidence, I am a world class expert in tourism." And the public gallery burst into laughter.

The Hoff

Todd. And when those wind turbines come down the children can play on the land they once stood on. More than what can be said for nuclear power.


@Todd so you think wind turbines are useless and polluting to the eye? Well i am for nuclear power, but the sad thing is that even if the reactors are safe the assholes that run them isn't, they love cutting corners all the time. Your making it sound like wind power is useless. Well it isn't but plenty of people that loves to tell you that is so they can sell there coal power to you. Its never going to make all the power but its a good % any way. Here we in Sweden we dont get any subsidies for wind power but yet we love putting them up to make money. A farmer puts up one and he makes more than on the farming of the land.


Agree with Todd... Alternatively, what effects are the wind turbines having on the environment when they take power out of the wind?

Gregory Minor

re; jonoxn

There is no reason to believe that the ground under a nuclear power plant can not be cleaned up to harmlessness. But with a rational energy policy why would you want to? When a reactor reaches the end of its useful life remove it and build a new one in its place.


I have noticed windy areas around farm ponds- this is a good way to check them and the infamous grocery store parking lot wind zone. thanks- kewl idea.

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