January 7, 2016

...AND CHEAPER...:

Are these futuristic high-altitude balloons the brave new world of solar energy? (Adam Epstein, December 16, 2015, Quartz)

One way to improve the efficiency of solar panels is to place them where clouds can't interrupt their energy production. Even in the sunniest parts of the world, clouds can still cause fluctuations in energy output. So what better place to put solar panels than above the clouds?

The idea is not without major hurdles, but some energy scientists think it's worth trying. Researchers at NextPV--a multinational lab jointly operated by France's CNRS and the University of Tokyo--are developing solar panels attached to high-altitude balloons that would hypothetically float 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) in the sky. That's well above where most clouds reside.

"Anywhere above the planet, there are very few clouds at an altitude of 6 km--and none at all at 20 km," writes CNRS French director Jean-Fran├žois Guillemoles, in an article on the lab's website. "As the sky loses its blue color, direct illumination becomes more intense: the concentration of solar energy results in more effective conversion, and hence higher yields."

Posted by at January 7, 2016 5:26 PM

  

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