|Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003
Yes, there is a well-known high voltage between the electrosphere and the earth's surface.
It increases by some 200 to 300 volts per meter when you go up from the ground. One can easily erect an elevated wire to get 1,000 or more volts.
During WW II, our troops in the jungles of the pacific found that the trees show this voltage gain with height. So they actually put the antenna connection wire into the trees (up a ways) and used the trees as a sort of "high voltage antenna".
Worked nicely, I'm told by some of the old timers who were there. Probably could Google it off the Web, because someone is almost certain to have written about it.
For a power system, there isn't much current with the high voltage one gets from such an antenna. However, it is possible to use circuits in an "inverted" manner, such that (at least momentarily) the current is pinned and essentially zero. By switching the high voltage onto pinned Drude electrons, one potentializes them freely. In physics, gauge freedom guarantees that one can change the potential and potential energy of a system freely and at will., and changing the VOLTAGE ONLY is just asymmetrical regauging. What one looks at is the capacitance of the circuit, but in "pinned Drude charges" state momentarily. That way applying voltage is just pure energy transfer; there is no "power" and no "work" because there is no current.
Once the energy is transferred, then the source (the hi voltage antenna) is switched away, and the pinned system converted into the standard closed loop circuit. One puts in diodes which force the direction of current only in the direction desired. The system then discharges its free energy in the load, power it for a bit. By reiterating the cycle, one powers the load mostly by regauging, and taking free electrical energy from the atmospheric potential between the ground and the electrosphere.
At least a few of the very older inventors made systems such as that, back in the old days about the turn of the century at 1900 or so. Then we got onto "modern circuits" and all that was lost.