Mitsubishi Invests in US Airborne Wind Turbine Developer

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Oman’s Suhail Bahwan Group have invested in Altaeros Energies, a Massachusetts-based technology company, to support the design and production of its airborne wind turbines.

The investment amount was not disclosed. Last December, Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Group Corp. said it planned to invest US$7 million in Altaeros.

The Altaeros Buoyant Air Turbine offers a multi-purpose platform to supply power, telecommunication, and other sensing and security services to remote and off-grid customers.

Altaeros Energies was founded in 2010 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the aim of deploying the world’s first commercial airborne wind turbine to harness the abundant energy in strong, steady winds at higher altitudes. It targets installations at remote locations that often rely on expensive fossil fuels.

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.

“There are over one billion people that live without access to reliable electricity and three billion who do not have access to the Internet,” said Ben Glass, CEO of Altaeros.” We are honored to partner with MHI and SBG to deliver a product that can tackle this global challenge.”

The BAT delivers a consistent power output from a containerized platform that is convenient to ship and install at remote sites, helping to significantly reduce reliance on diesel fuel for off-grid communities, disaster relief centers, island nations, and remote industries. The BAT is composed of a helium-filled shell that lifts a wind turbine to harness stronger and more consistent winds 600 meters above ground, roughly three times higher than the tallest existing tower-mounted wind turbines.

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