351. BALLOON MIRRORS FOR SOLAR POWER
Generally, I don't focus on day-to-day developments in new energy R&D. That role is admirably played by Jim Fraser's Energy Blog -- an excellent source for news on EVs, batteries, solar power and numerous other important topics relating to the ongoing energy transition.
Today, however, I'd like to focus on a very interesting new approach to CSP (concentrating solar power) which Jim hasn't covered yet. As long time readers know, I am a big fan of low-tech think-outside-the-box concepts, and this new technique is a classic example.
The idea is simple: Use mylar balloons as the mirrors in a CSP installation. Like so:
This technology is currently being developed and commercialized by Cool Earth Solar and has numerous advantages over conventional PV and CSP:
- 25x cheaper installed than solar panels.
- Inflatable mirrors are 400x cheaper than the polished aluminum mirrors used in conventional CSP plants.
- Rigging: Requires about 60x less steel than truss work, and minimal grounds preparation.
- Balloons can be installed on elevated rigging, for minimal impact on land use and habitat.
- Rapid scalability and installation.