July 18, 2019
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Airborne wind turbines to be tested in Limestone

LIMESTONE, Maine — The skies around the Loring Commerce Centre will look a bit different this fall now that a Massachusetts-based business has secured the rights to test its airborne wind turbines at the former air force base.

Carl Flora, president and CEO of the Loring Development Authority, said that Altaeros Energies is preparing to test its helium filled floating turbines, which are being developed to turn high-altitude winds into electricity.

“This project is in the development stage,” Flora said late last week. “Their product is a helium filled cylinder approximately 30 feet across. It is light enough to float and it is tethered to the ground with a cable.”

The company is led by alumni of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Company officials could not be reached for comment Monday. But according to the firm’s website, www.altaerosenergies.com, the airborne balloon, which is designed to hold a wind turbine in its hollow center, can produce abundant, low-cost renewable energy and can operate at higher heights where winds are much stronger and more consistent than on the ground.

It can ascend to an altitude of 500 feet or more and the generated electricity is transmitted to the ground and into the power grid through the tether cable.

Flora said that Altaeros will be operating out of Loring’s arch hanger for several months while the testing program is under way.

The testing could last up to three months.

Presently, Science Applications International Corporation is leasing part of the arch hanger. They will allow Altaeros employees to share the building’s unused space.

“Altaeros will be a subtenant in the building,” said Flora.

He added that while nothing is set in stone, this could turn into a long-term partnership between the center and Altaeros.

“It is possible that they would return to do additional testing or other work,” he said.

The Loring Commerce Center, located on the former Loring Air Force Base, is a commercial, industrial and aviation park that houses more than 20 employers, including Loring Job Corps and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

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