It's pretty simple: a balloon on a tether attached to a motor/generator on the ground. As the balloon lifts, it generates power, and it takes power to drag it back down. Like pumped hydro, but backwards.
The bonus is, on the lifting stage some extra generating potential is there, on occasion. The
balloon can be configured for high drag for example, by changing shape or orientation to add significantly to the power generated when high winds lift the structure. This shape change could even be done passively. It would conversely be streamlined for lowering.
Some other ideas to increase efficiency, but still trying to keep it simple (dumb tether): condense or freeze water out of the air to increase mass on the trip down, have a color change (black/white) to increase lift due to solar heating, multiple interchangeable balloons on one tether configured for a particular weather profile, using the cable for generation of power from atmospheric ions, insulated balloon and solar heater for extra lift.-- TIB,
Dec 23 2016
1) Balloon with flaps, pulls on the cable to the generator, get to the top, flaps open, sinks down uses the generated power to electrolyse water into hydrogen, which fills up the balloon for the next go up...
or 2) the same but just burn the H2 and the O to heat up the air in the balloon when it gets to to the bottom.
Ensemble contains one klein bottle and some of that Moebius sticky tape the Borg bought off the Ferengi home shopping channel-- not_morrison_rm,
Dec 24 2016
Balloon configured for high drag pulls harder on generator as it rises? How does that work? I think it would pull softer as it met more resistance on the way up.-- bungston,
Dec 24 2016
[bungston]: when the air is still, it works as you describe, but if there's goodly wind, it can function as a kite designed for maximum lift. The rate of climb is not an upward fall either, it's slowed such that drag for vertical movement is a minimal factor. I 'splaind it bad. Will edit.-- TIB,
Dec 25 2016