Aglietti, G.S., Markvart, T., Tatnall, A.R. and Walker, S.J.
Solar power generation using high altitude platforms feasibility and viability
Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, 16, (4), . (doi:10.1002/pip.815).
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This paper investigates the feasibility and economical advantages that could be offered by a new facility for the production of solar energy. The basic concept is to exploit a high altitude aerostatic platform to support Photovoltaic (PV) modules to substantially increase their output by virtue of the significantly enhanced solar radiation at the operating altitude of the aerostat. The electric energy is then transmitted to the ground using the aerostat mooring cable. The technical feasibility of the concept is demonstrated by using standard equations and realistic values for the relevant engineering parameters that describe the technical properties of the materials and subsystems. There are, nevertheless, issues to be addressed to improve the performance; however, none of these issues is deemed to negate the technical feasibility of this concept. A preliminary cost model is illustrated and using unit cost data for the various materials and subsystems it is shown that it is possible to identify a specific size that minimizes the cost of energy produced. This cost could be considerably lower than what can be achieved by solar panels based on the ground in the UK.
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