[I realize and understand that trying to harness storm lightning is fairly impossible/impractical, so that is not the focus here, unless someone has some info contradicting that.] The basic question I have is this: there is a strong altitude correlation in the distribution of positive (higher atmos.) and negative (lower atmos.) ions in the Earth's atmosphere, and I wonder if there may be some way to derive usable energy from that. Say, speculatively, we were to place high altitude balloons below which we tether a weight on a longish conducting cable. Would such an apparatus create an appreciable current along it's length? If so, could such a setup lead to something like free-floating generators that, for example, beam via microwave the energy captured to the nearest ground receiver? I am quite obviously not conversant enough in neither the physics nor the engineering, but perhaps some of you bright folks could either quash this as impossible/not worth it, or aid in my speculation? Thanks.