A wind blimp is a wind turbine in the form of a blimp which is anchored to the ground with a long tether. The wind blimp can take advantage of wind at higher altitudes than more conventional turbines for the purpose of generating wind power. The concept of the wind blimp is merely one among many solutions suggested for weaning the world from the use of fossil fuels to generate power, and as of 2008, it has only progressed into the very early prototype stages, although some environmental activists are quite optimistic about the future of the wind blimp.
The design for the wind blimp comes from a company called Magenn Power, which calls its wind blimp the Magenn Power Air Rotor System or MARS. Magenn has been in the industry since the late 1970s, and the company has contributed a number of innovations to the world of blimp design. Like Magenn's other creations, the wind blimp is designed to be lighter than air with the assistance of a helium filled envelope.
There are several main parts to a wind blimp. The first is the turbine itself, which is anchored on a central axis. The design of the blimp allows it to turn to face the wind, taking advantage of changing weather conditions to generate the most power possible. The helium filled envelope lies inside the turbine, allowing the turbine to spin freely around it, and the blimp is attached to the Earth with a tether, which would theoretically connect to a transformer and then pass the generated power on through the grid.
Many people support the development of wind power because it is a clean form of energy, especially when green building techniques are used to build the turbines required to generate it. However, wind power has some distinct disadvantages when turbines are installed on poles on Earth. Wind farms can take up a great deal of physical space, for example, and they are also noisy and potentially dangerous for birds and bats. They are also limited by location, as the turbines must be placed in an area with high surface winds to generate power.
Unlike stationary turbines, a wind blimp can be moved as needed. Because wind blimps do not rely on surface currents, they can also be deployed anyway. The tether is designed to keep wind blimps out of the flight path so that they will not interrupt aircraft traffic, and the blimps will also theoretically be high enough to eliminate the risk of bird injuries and deaths. These traits make the wind blimp a strong, versatile technology for the generation of wind power, and if the technology is successfully developed, wind blimps could be used by both individual homeowners and electricity companies.