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No pie in the sky for Moffett Field company

Original post made on Apr 1, 2010

The latest thing set to float above Moffett Field isn't a Zeppelin or helicopter prototype, it's a spinning helium balloon that is supposed to generate a relatively cheap and clean supply of electricity.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 1, 2010, 2:47 PM

Comments (9)

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Posted by Hal
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm

The skies over Mountain View are becoming like a scene out of '2001 Space Odyssey'. I am going to sit in back yard, play the Blue Danube and watch the show go by...

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Posted by Engineer
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

That's so cool! It's even better that the jobs will be local. It's hard to imagine this becoming a large scale application. But who knows? I wish Megann Power best of luck and appreciate their choise of location.

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Posted by Doobie Brother
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Hal, I'll join you with a little medical marijuana...

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Posted by Atziluth
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 3, 2010 at 8:23 am

I am all for experimentation, but two things need to be considered:

1) 100 kW of peak capacity is an extremely tiny amount - especially since we are talking about wind energy here, which means that the actual average output will really be around 30-60 kW (I am assuming that the average capacity factor for wind at such high altitudes would be higher than it is on land / sea).

2) Who wants to live near a 1,000 ft high balloon hooked to the ground through a 1,000 ft long tether?

I am afraid that as usual, renewable energy sounds like a great idea until you look beyond the hype at its practical implications - vastly expensive systems which produce energy intermittently and require significant amounts of land.

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Posted by Greg
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

trying new idea, is better than do nothing.

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Posted by critical engineer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

An interesting concept but not very practical considering the cost and restrictions on Helium. Also, too many moving parts and too much potential liability. I suspect this company is looking for a NASA or California Green Energy handout. They are based in Ottawa Canada and have been living off Canadian NRC grants for the last 2 years. A founder of this company, Mac Brown is well known in the Ottawa area. Do a Google search of "Mac Brown Ottawa" and find out for yourself what this colorful character has been up to.

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Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm

There is a number of start-ups exploring how to tap the more powerful and constant winds at higher altitudes. There was even a conference in Chico, California on this topic last year: Web Link

I have no idea if this particular technology will prove a good energy source. But I think we should try out as many ideas as we can and be careful about dismissing any of them out of hand. And I'm thrilled California is at the leading edge of research around renewable energy. That increases the chance of a great economy and job market for our children and grandchildren.

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Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Sorry, got the link to the high altitude wind power conference wrong. Here is the right link: Web Link

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Posted by Flyer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 6, 2010 at 7:44 am

Web Link

Describes the crash in 2007 of a aircraft with an existing tethered ballon system, an aerostat, used for narcotics survellience. The aerostat carries a radar and may operate up to 15,000'. The restricted area is four miles across. Each aerostat installation is opposed by multiple 'alphabet' aviation groups. Doubtful these restricted areas would be allowed near populated areas, where the power is needed, even at the end of a transmission line.

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