Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Space-Based Solar Power

As the demand for clean and renewable energy intensifies, the use of space-based solar power as an alternative energy source is quickly becoming more viable.

The idea dates back to the 1970s when the Department of Energy was actively studying the feasibility of beaming solar power to earth from panels connected to satellites in space. The project uses huge orbiting panels or solar arrays that continuously remain in the path of the Sun’s rays and beam megawatt after megawatt of energy back to earth.

The SBSP project is set to launch by the government in 2016. Thereafter, the Pentagon is hopeful that it can lure the private sector into the market with the promise of profitability.One company, Solar Energy Inc., is already on board and plans to provide SBSP for commercial use within 10 years. One of the main reasons SBSP didn’t take off in the 1970’s was because it was assumed that the price tag for such a venture would be astronomical. But the sheer profitability of SBSP and the overwhelming need for alternative sources of energy has made the project worth the initial $10 billion price tag.

When the program is finally launched, large solar arrays will send their solar bounties via microwave beams back down to earth. Back on earth, mesh receivers placed over farmland and other designated locations will funnel the power into the nation’s electric grid and into people’s homes.

From the article:
Space-based solar power
Mehran Ghaffarsamar
Read the full article here

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