Instead of a wind farm that no one seems to want built near their homes, how about a hot-air balloon farm to generate renewable energy?
New Scientist reports that “Ian Edmonds, an environmental consultant with Solartran in Brisbane, Australia, has designed a giant engine with a balloon as its 'piston'. A greenhouse traps solar energy, providing hot air to fill the balloon. As the balloon rises, it pulls a tether, which turns a generator on the ground. Once the balloon has reached 3 kilometres, air is released through its vent and it loses buoyancy. This means less energy is needed to pull the balloon back down again, resulting in a net power gain.”
For those merely interested in hard numbers, calculations show that “a large 44-metre-diameter recreational balloon could generate 50 kilowatts, enough to supply energy to about 10 homes.”
For us, we want to see some fantastic, unrepentantly beguiling images showing vast tracts of land (or the ocean) planted with boldly colored balloons bobbing up and down, a strange buoyant forest unfurling and retreating during the day, fully resting at night.
Taking cues from Ken Smith and Kathryn Gustafson, urban parks everywhere will have their own aerial installations, generating power for the park itself, if not for the surrounding neighborhood.
Or in the urban periphery of foreclosed suburbs, now bulldozed and eradicated, reformatted as energy fields, electrifying cities and hopefully not tragically impeding bird migrations.