An image is worth a thousand words. As you may see in the picture above, this balloon, made by Cool Earth, is concentrating the solar power to a focal point, where a photovoltaic solar cell is harnessing the light.
The solar balloon produces 400 times the electricity that a normal, ground solar cell would produce without the concentrator. Cool Earth is already constructing a balloon-based power plant in Livermore, CA. When finished, the power plant will generate 1.4 MW, with plans to increase the power furthermore.
“Plastic thin film is abundant and cheap,” said Cool Earth Solar CEO Rob Lamkin. “It only costs two dollars for the plastic material necessary for our solar concentrator.”
With inventions like MIT’s recent high efficiency thin film solar cell, the solar balloon may go even further with the solar energy harnessing.