This project, dubbed SunHope, proposes to cover 10-ft. helium balloons with low-cost photovoltaic arrays. The balloons, designed by Joseph Cory of Geotectura along with Dr. Pini Gurfil, are not yet in use but have been tested. The idea is to collect and provide energy to areas where large solar panels are not practical or possible, like crowded cities or rural areas.
Each balloon has the potential to provide one kilowatt of energy -- roughly equivalent to 25 square meters of solar panels. Cory and Gurfil estimate that one balloon would cost around US$4,000, as opposed to US$10,000 for comparable solar panels. One or two balloons linked together can potentially power one home; attach more to power entire communities.