With so many disasters appearing in the news over the last 10 days, something like the Solarial should be made a reality as soon as possible. According to the creator, this unmanned airship provides “mobile support infrastructure for disaster relief and remote communities, generating renewable energy and supplying communications links where they are needed most.”
The outside is coated in thin-film photovoltaic cells (something Nanosolar is working on to boost from a current efficiency of 14%) and also has a reversible drive propeller/wind turbine. As blimps themselves have a 80%-90% lower environmental impact than jets, such transport would also be earth-friendly.
“Once at the site, the airship then lowers the power box (which contains anchoring mechanisms). The energy generated while the airship is aloft is then transmitted to the ground to power field hospitals, water pumping and purification, lighting, communications, and computer equipment necessary to sustain the operation. At average latitudes and atmospheric conditions, Solarial should be able to produce about 125 kWh per day between its solar cells and the wind turbine.”
It should also be noted that his blimp uses hydrogen, instead of the fossil fuel helium to achieve buoyancy. Hydrogen is cheaper and renewable — but is also highly flammable; something the author takes note of and points to the unmanned characteristic of his invention as a positive in this case.