Alternative Energy-Solar Energy - Exactly what are Solar Balloons?
Solar and alternative energy
A year ago an original concept in alternative energy won the "Forward Thinking" award from the
RE:VOLT Electrifying Ideas competition. What was this new idea? Solar balloons produced by
Israeli scientists Joseph Cory and Dr. Pini Gurfil for Sun Hope.
What exactly are Solar Balloons?
Home and commercial energy devices
Historically the phrase "solar balloon" has known as simple black balloons that have been stuffed
with air. As outlined by Wikipedia, "as sunlight shines about the balloon, the environment inside is
heated and expands, causing an upward buoyancy force, much like an artificially-heated heat
balloon. Some solar balloons are big enough for human flight, but usage is bound to the toy
market because the surface-area to payload-weight ratio is rather high."
As technology evolves, terminology evolves as well. The title of "solar balloon" can also refer to a
balloon like "platform" which contains embedded photovoltaic arrays or solar arrays to be able to
convert solar energy into electrical energy. When it comes to the Joseph Cory and Dr. Pini Gurfil's
Sun Hope design we view a lighter-than-air helium filled fabric balloon since the platform or base.
Each fabric balloon is linked with the bottom with two cables - one for helium refills, another for
passing generated electricity into a cp.
Sun Hope isn't alone in their quest for an affordable, functional solar balloon design. Another solar
balloon design arises from Cool Earth Solar. Cool Earth Solar uses plastic balloons that are
suspended on wires. To acquire a visual, visualize a 2 meter wide mylar balloon. These plastic
balloons also have concentrated solar photovoltaics where light is magnified onto cells to
maximize electricity generation output. Perhaps the most common concern about solar balloons is
the capacity to operate in high wind environments, based on Cool Earth Solar, their system can
withstand wind speeds as high as 100 miles-per-hour.
While solar balloons show promise being a photovoltaic implementation there are many concerns
to be noted. These concerns however, are no unique of those found with medium to large wind
power installations. Based upon the dimensions and placement of installation one may have to
consider items like air traffic regulations and potential bird collisions.
Solar balloons provide impressive value in isolated, off-grid locations as well as temporary portable
power supplies. In situations such as these, solar balloons supply a route to escaping a fossil fuel
Concentrating Solar powered energy
In of instances of solar balloons, the efficiency with the pv cells are improved by concentrating
solar technology (CSP). In accordance with the US Department of Energy, "concentrating solar
power's relatively low cost and skill to provide power during periods of peak demand - location we
require it - imply it could be a major cause of the nation's future needs for distributed reasons for
Concentrating solar technology system work by using mirrors or another reflective surfaces to
accentuate the power with the sun to a specific point. This power energy can enhance the
efficiency of solar cells. As outlined by Cool Earth Solar, "multi-junction, top quality cells derived
from satellite technology allow CPV systems to create exactly the same level of electricity as
traditional lcd PV systems with all the approximately 500 times less solar panel material." With
diminishing resources of garbage needed to manufacture electricity cells, concentrating solar
powered energy provides more energy with less raw materials.
While today solar balloons can be a new technology, in the future they may be a strategy to curing
our nation of it's attachment to classic fuels. The Cool Earth team recently received $21 million
that they prefer to use to build a 10 megawatt plant employing their solar balloon technology. Due
to forward thinking, environment concerned investors, a solar balloon based solar energy plant
can be a reality within the next several years, someday it might even power your own home.