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Balloon Park
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?

Orange County Great Park

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.
  • Anonymous
  • January 18, 2009 at 11:37:00 AM CST
  • Energy production can (should) be beautiful...

  • ::poltergasm::
  • January 19, 2009 at 6:07:00 AM CST
  • i am just curious:

    nobody wants a wind farm?

    [i should look at the link & i will, but this comment struck me particularly hard as i remember making it my business to drive by the localish wind farm when i went i was bi-city & traveled bi-weekly to or from LA to SF/SF to LA.

    monumental things of less figural than abstract & almost spiritual glory, wind farms.]

    anyway, over & out.

  • ::poltergasm::
  • January 19, 2009 at 6:08:00 AM CST
  • [edi note: sorry for the mal-grammar, it was a hard week here in the house on the second floor, elsewise uninhabited industrial wasteland.]

  • Anonymous
  • January 24, 2009 at 4:51:00 PM CST
  • "vast tracts of land (or the ocean) planted with boldly colored balloons bobbing up and down..."

    I get what you mean but putting ballons and windmills and solar panels over vast tracts of land doesn't sound particulary environmentally friendly, despite the clean energy. We have to evaluate these things with a more comprehensive environmental approach than clean energy production.

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