If UK-based New Wave Energy has its way, drones simply won’t be delivering Amazon boxes to doorsteps, they’ll also be charging the gizmos and gadgets within those packages.
New Wave’s idea is to create energy harvesting drones equipped with solar panels and small wind turbines that fly to around 50,000 feet where wind patterns are more reliable and solar production is greater. After collecting solar and wind energy, the drones would beam that energy via microwaves back to antennas on the Earth’s surface, all while using a portion of that electricity to keep themselves aloft. The ground-based antennas would then convert the microwave energy into electricity and pump it into the grid.
Each drone is capable of generating 50 kW of power. That may not be enough juice to turn the lights back on during a citywide blackout, but it might be enough to power a small neighborhood. Regardless, every little bit of electricity helps, especially during natural disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. In those cases, the drone’s mobile deployment could have been a real asset for those without power.