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Trying to avoid the case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) that can be a problem for many sources of energy, manufacturers have begun designing methods to distance energy generating units from the public; with ideas such as having solar panels in space, or wind turbines flying at high altitude. One company, New Wave Energy UK, is the first that plans combine several ideas together in a flying unit that generates energy from multiple sources and then beams the energy down to the planet’s surface.
The company’s product consists of a drone that would fly around at about 50,000 feet generating energy from solar, wind, and heat, using a bit to power itself, and then transmitting the rest down to a receiver on Earth.
In the company press release issued on the 15th of November, New Wave Energy explained that “the technology is a wireless solution which will incorporate wireless power transmission from the drones (and their wireless network) to the Earth’s surface, another new technology developed by multiple bodies in the USA and Japan for energy production using solar satellites. Aerial energy harvesting is in its infancy however does show great promise.”
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First the unit will be sent out to provide relief power in areas recovering from a natural disaster, providing the energy to operate search and rescue missions, and run other emergency services. Then it will be sent to remote or developing regions which have no connection to an energy grid. If no problems are met then the final step will be to scale up the generating capacity of the units and the volume in order to provide power on a country-wide scale.
As seen above, each drone will have four rotors to keep it in the air; various small wind turbines to generate electricity, and a large central solar panel. Gizmag writes that the drone would be able to produce all its own power, along with an extra 50kW to be sent back to receiver installations on Earth in the form of electromagnetic waves.
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Critics warn that having so many systems on a drone just means that there is more that could break, and that the small generating capacity means that you would need thousands of them to replace just one conventional power plant. Treehugger suggests that it would be easier to install solar panels on the roof of every building in the US.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com