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Space Based Solar Power

Humans are resting their hope of finding alternative energy generation models on solar and wind power generation.

But what if science could find some way to harness the power of the sleepless sun? This is not just a twist in a science fiction novel, as researchers are making good progress towards harnessing space based solar power.

It all began when Isaac Asimov wrote of solar power being collected from space and transmitted to the planet with the help of microwaves.

This concept was later extended by Peter Glaser in 1968 and he detailed the basic idea of creating a solar satellite which incorporated Asimov’s fiction and modern technology concepts.

The concept is simple.

Solar Power in Space

Image source: www.ssi.org

You send an array of solar cells into space such that it always faces the sun, and then those solar cells transmit the energy collected from the sun to a base station via microwave link. There is no risk of harm from the microwave link, as the intensity would be the same as energy emitted from your oven and less harmful than mobile phone radiation.

The satellite can be made geosynchronous, ensuring it generates energy around the clock.

NASA is seriously testing these concepts and has started using “Space based solar power” on satellites like SPS-ALPHA. The satellite looks similar to a flower shape but it weighs about 450pounds.

Starting up a system like this will be costly, but space based solar power has the potential to revolutionize energy generation.

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