Airborne Wind Turbines:

Clean, Consistent and Cost-Effective Energy

Frequently Asked Questions

What we are doing here at Joby Energy has the potential to be revolutionary, so it’s only natural there will be numerous interesting questions.

Some of the most common (and the not-so-common) are listed here.

Still have questions? Send an email to us and we’ll be happy to answer.

Q: How do you get the energy from there to here?

A: The tether that moors the turbine to the ground has electrical conductors inside, which transmit generated electricity from the vehicle to substations.

Q: What impact will your airborne wind turbines have on aviation and airlines?

A: Well-established air traffic control procedures have been in place for decades to ensure the safety of aircraft around areas of Restricted and/or Special Use Airspace (SUA). We are actively working with the Federal Aviation Administration and military airspace coordinators to choose sites in existing SUA, or where our airborne wind turbines will not adversely affect existing traffic. Our turbines will be equipped with lighting and radar transponders to ensure their visibility to pilots and controllers.

Q: Are the turbines safe?

A: We’re establishing safety procedures for each component and system as a whole. We will be working closely with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies to ensure compliance with all safety regulations. The robust control system in our airborne wind turbines will be tested to ensure reliable operation over long, continuous periods. Additionally our modular design employing multiple motor-generators and turbines provides safety through redundancy, enabling us to land safely even if a few turbines fail.

Q: Why go through all the effort? Aren’t current surface-based wind turbines pretty good?

A: This is a very important question. Pardon our long-winded answer (and the pun). At the most desirable surface wind power generation sites*, the wind contains 400-1000 watts per square meter (w/m2). High-altitude wind has between 2 and 30 times more power density than surface wind. This is because of two factors: First, the power in the wind decreases linearly with decreasing air density, so air that is one-third as dense contains one-third the power. Second, the power contained in the wind increases as the cube of speed, so five times the wind speed yields 125 times the power. Equally, if not more important is that high-altitude wind is significantly more consistent than surface winds. Even during times of low wind, our system can tack across the sky on the tether, thus maintaining consistent output.

*as defined by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and American Wind Energy Association

Q: Where will your turbines fly?

A: We will fly over uninhabited areas outside of air traffic corridors. As our technology matures we will develop offshore installations as well.