Mitsubishi Heavy Invests in Altaeros’ Airborne Wind Technology

(Bloomberg) — Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and
Oman-based Suhail Bahwan Group have invested in Altaeros
Energies Inc., a U.S. company developing airborne wind turbines,
the companies said in a statement Thursday.

The move follows the December announcement by Japanese
telecommunications company SoftBank Group Corp. that it planned
to invest $7 million in Altaeros. Massachusetts-based Altaeros
is working to commercialize technology to lift wind turbines
into consistently high altitudes so that they can produce more
power than tower-mounted turbines. Financial terms weren’t
disclosed in Thursday’s statement.

Altaeros’ device, called a Buoyant Airborne Turbine, or
BAT, adapts existing technology found in tethered aerostats,
according to the company’s website. Tethered aerostats resemble
inflatable blimps and have been used in the past to lift heavy
communications and monitoring equipment to high altitudes.

“MHI and SBG bring deep strategic expertise in developing
and executing large technology projects for industrial and
government customers around the world,” the companies said in
the statement. 

Airborne turbines can be used to supply off-grid or remote
customers with power supply, telecommunications and for other
purposes such as sensing and security services.

“There are over one billion people that live without access
to reliable electricity and three billion who do not have access
to the Internet,” Ben Glass, CEO of Altaeros, said in the
statement.

BAT uses a helium-filled shell that lifts a wind turbine to
harness stronger and more consistent winds 600 meters (2,000
feet) above ground, about three times higher than the tallest
existing tower-mounted wind turbines, according to the
statement.

Altaeros was founded in 2010 at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. Suhail Bahwan has more than 40 companies ranging
from electronics to health care.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at
cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Iain Wilson, Abhay Singh

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