Categorized | Renewable energy, Solar power

Solar panels in space could beam power back to earth via microwave

llustration: John MacNeill

llustration: John MacNeill

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency proposes installing ginormous solar panels in space then beaming the power down to us by microwave. If this proves to be feasible, then energy shortages could disappear.

JAXA’s technology road map calls for work to begin on a 100-kW SPS demonstration around 2020. Engineers would verify all the basic technologies required for a commercial space-based solar power system during this stage. Constructing and orbiting a 2-megawatt and then a 200-MW plant, the next likely steps, would require an international consortium, like the ones that fund the world’s giant particle physics experiments. Under such a scenario, a global organization could begin the construction of a 1-GW commercial SPS in the 2030s. It would be difficult and expensive, but the payoff would be immense, and not just in economic terms. Throughout human history, the introduction of each new energy source—beginning with firewood, and moving on through coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power—has caused a revolution in our way of living.

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