Need to get some quick-and-pretty solar energy to your house, but don't want to mount a bunch of heavy solar panels on your roof? Now you can start powering up with these gorgeous, lightweight solar balloons. As long as you've got a helium tank handy, says inventor Joseph Cory, just one or two of these balloons made with photovoltaic solar cells could power your whole house.
Cory developed the balloons with aerospace engineer Pini Gurfil. The two say that these balloons would be good for off-the-grid applications, like setting up a camp after a disaster or pumping energy into a house far from electricity generators. Because the balloons are so lightweight and energy-efficient, they can be quickly deployed and moved around.
According to Inhabitat:
Cory and Gurfil have constructed several prototypes and have conducted research to show that a 10 ft balloon could provide around a kilowatt of energy (equivalent to 25 square meters of solar panels). Their target cost is $4,000 per balloon, compared to the $10,000 it would cost for a solar field producing the same amount of energy. The balloons will last about a year without needing maintenance.
Not sure how they would fare in a storm, but perhaps you'd just have some capacitors charged up so you could take the balloons down during times of heavy rain.
Solar Balloons [Inhabitat]