A thousand feet off the ground, the wind blows brisk and uninterrupted. But how do you build such a tall, thin beam to support a turbine's blades? You don't—you float the generator in a giant helium balloon. The world's first floating commercial wind turbine will soon be hovering over Fairbanks, Alaska.

Gizmodo first wrote about the Buoyant Wind Turbine (BAT) two years ago—back when it was still called the Airborne Wind Turbine—but it's just now getting its first long-term test. BAT can be deployed in under 24 hours, so it's targeted toward remote communities or disaster areas as an alternative to diesel generators. Additional equipment for cellular service or weather monitoring could also be added, turning the turbines into floating infrastructure pop-ups. [Altaeros Energies via IEEE Spectrum]


Image via Altaeros