There are many new forms of green energy, but perhaps none as interesting as the Cool Earth Solar “Balloon.”

Here’s the concept behind the design:
• An inflatable plastic thin-film balloon (solar concentrator) is created
• Upon inflation, the balloon focuses sunlight onto a photovoltaic cell held at its focal point
• The design produces 400 times the electricity that a solar cell would generate without the Cool Earth’s concentrator

Cool Earth has already begun construction on a Livermore, California power plant that will utilize this new technology.  The plant is modest in size, creating only 1.4 megawatts, but if this plant works as well as they expect it to, the company plans to launch a full-sized plant next summer.

One great thing about this device is that it’s made up of a very common and cheap material. “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.”

It’s clever ideas like this that I think will stick.  Cool Earth Solar is an environmentally sound concept that is cost efficient and built around an easy to find material.  That’s the definition of sustainable energy.

Do you think this sounds like a good way to harness solar energy?


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