Forget solar panels. Inventor Joseph Cory has designed a way to grab energy right out of the sky using solar helium balloons and a helium tank.
Cory is a multi-award winning architect and founder of Geotectura, which focuses on solving environmental and social problems through innovative design. He, along with aerospace engineer Pini Gurfil, came up with SunHope—a design intended to alleviate the need for vast swatches of land, large investments, and the permanent installation that corresponds with traditional solar panel systems.
The SunHope system uses helium balloons made of a specialized fabric that is coated with energy-grabbing solar cells. The solar helium balloons attach to a power cable, a control panel, and a helium supply cable, which ensures the balloons constantly remain inflated without having to break down and redeploy the structure.
According to inhabitat, a single 10-foot solar helium balloon can provide a kilowatt of energy, which is about the equivalent to more than 250 square feet of traditional ground- or roof-based solar panels.
One balloon would cost around $4,000, which is roughly $6,000 cheaper than it would cost to install that 250-square-foot solar panel field.
Even better news is that it would only take one or two solar helium balloons to fully power a home, depending on home size and energy usage. And the SunHope system is easily scalable.
Multiple solar helium balloons can easily be strung together to provide electricity to entire apartment or office buildings, and the fast deployment of the system makes it idea for temporary situations like disaster aid.
The one variable we aren’t sure about is how they’d hold up in a storm, but they could be theoretically be taken down and redeployed rather quickly.