In space, there are no clouds. In fact, there's nothing at all between a giant solar panel and the rays of the sunlight. It's even possible that a solar satellite could collect energy 24 hours a day. Which is why solar is such a great resource in space.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to build an extention cord long enough to get that power back to the ground. So solar power in space doesn't seem destined to help power toasters down here on Earth. But now several start-ups and government space programs are seriously considering space-based solarpower projects. These power stations would collect power in space and then beam it through the admosphere using high-energy radio waves or lasers to collectors down on earth.
The most recent player is a collaboration between Mitsubishi Electric and IHI that, along with the Japanese government, wants to launch the first mission in 2015 and have the satellite operational by 2030. The costs are just as astronomical as the project itself, of course, roughly $21 billion. A similar project by the US government guessed that a 10 MW plant would cost $10 billion. So the Japanese project has cut the estimated per-megawatt price by a lot. That would be good news if it wasn't 20 years off and ten times more expensive than solar thermal power stations.
I for one think that this isn't the solution we're looking for. A gigawatt of power in 2030 is a bit off my radar, to be honest. I'm looking for something that can deliver 100 gigawatts by 2030. Cheaper solar, high-altitude wind and sophisticated geothermal seem a lot more feasible to me. I'm interested in hearing all solutions that people have to offer. But to be honest, this seems a bit like big kids playing with big toys to me.
written by Dean Leysen, September 02, 2009
written by Emmanuel, September 02, 2009
written by Keith Henson, September 03, 2009
written by envirogy, September 04, 2009
written by CelticSolar, September 10, 2009
written by Keith Henson, September 10, 2009
written by Driver8, September 10, 2009
|< Prev||Next >|