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As an intermediate solution between Glaser's satellite solar power (SSP) and ground-based photovoltaic (PV) panels, this paper examines the collection of solar energy using a high-altitude aerostatic platform. A procedure to calculate the irradiance in the medium/high troposphere, based on experimental data, is described. The results show that here a PV system could collect about four to six times the energy collected by a typical U.K.-based ground installation, and between one-third and half of the total energy the same system would collect if supported by a geostationary satellite (SSP). The concept of the aerostat for solar power generation is then briefly described together with the equations that link its main engineering parameters/variables. A preliminary sizing of a facility stationed at 6 km altitude and its costing, based on realistic values of the input engineering parameters, is then presented.
Date of Publication: June 2009