No generation has felt the terrifying effects of climate change quite like ours. The responsibility has been placed on Gen Z to shift the course of our current path. A Durham-based company, aptly named Windlift, seeks to combat climate change and set the United States on a path towards a sustainable future.
According to Windlift’s background, “Windlift’s mission is to produce energy for a sustainable civilization… by developing a renewable energy technology that could become the world’s lowest-cost energy source.”
Windlift affects the Durham community in ways beyond creating renewable energy. According to Strategic Communications Specialist at Windlift Mary Claire McCarthy, they have new hires from the area and have also reached out to the technical colleges around Durham. During the difficult time of this pandemic, Windlift has created jobs, which helps residents of Durham get back on their feet.
“It was hard to hire people during the pandemic but we took our time and found some pretty amazing people,” said CEO of Windlift, Robert Creighton. “They are wonderfully talented, enthusiastic and curious individuals who bring a lot of expertise and creativity to Windlift.”
Windlift is looking to positively affect not only larger, global community issues, but also the local Durham community in which the company is based.
So what exactly is Windlift, and what is the concept underlying the company? It is fairly complex, but essentially Windlift uses Airborne Wind Energy (AWE), which, according to McCarthy, is “a new category of wind energy using a tethered flying device.” This tethered flying device is a miniature aircraft that flies in a Figure-8 pattern to generate energy.
To harness wind energy, Windlift uses an Airborne Power Generator (APG) to create electrical energy, which is similar to the way a traditional wind turbine works but uses only 5% of the materials.
According to the Windlift Communications Team’s FAQ Sheet, some key advantages of Airborne Wind Energy are that it requires fewer materials and is highly mobile, portable, cost-effective and adaptive to different environments. Right now, Windlift’s primary customer is the United States Department of Defense.
“Windlift is the only AWE company to make inroads with the U.S. military. We have worked with the U.S. Marine Corps for over a decade to define and refine the APG requirements,” McCarthy said. "In 2020, we enriched our partnership with the Marine Corps with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) addition. We hope to extend our partnerships into other military branches as well.”
Currently, McCarthy said, the Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world and that they are leaving a massive footprint. Windlift claims to be helping the Department of Defense reduce their carbon footprint.
“Our mission and ultimate vision are to adapt the APG to the consumer space. We want to create a technology that can help civilization mitigate climate change. To achieve this goal, we plan to scale the APG for offshore energy production. This method is powerful enough to power thousands, if not millions, of U.S. homes,” McCarthy said.
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