One of the world’s foremost authorities on energy, Daniel Yergin most recently authored the book The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World. In this book, as well as in several nationally read op-ed articles, he discusses the importance of alternative energies. Daniel Yergin possesses a distinct interest in disruptive technologies, or innovations that change the technology landscape as we know it.
Recently, Google X, Google’s secretive research and development lab, announced that it had acquired Makani Power, an alternative energy start-up focused on airborne wind turbines. Unlike traditional wind turbines, which are affixed to solid metal towers, airborne wind turbines are fixed-wing aircraft anchored to the ground with heavy-duty cables. These devices take off like helicopters, using built-in rotor blades until they reach the stronger, more consistent winds present at 800 to 2,000 feet above ground level. At this altitude, the airborne wind turbines behave like kites, harnessing the power of the wind and transferring it to power grids on the ground. While current models only produce about 30 kilowatts of power, together Makani and Google X hope to develop turbines that will generate up to 600 kilowatts of power.