Wonderful Engineering

Scientists Figure Out A Way To Beam Solar Energy From Space

Owing to overpopulation, we are experiencing a severe energy crisis, and still, a huge fraction of Earth cannot enjoy electricity. What if we extract solar energy from space and utilize it to power appliances on Earth? Worry not, you won’t have to wait for the next space voyage to get the idea implemented. The project has just got funding and we’ll give you a quick overview of all that we can expect. And once, it gets successful and commercializes, it can open up pathways for diverse IoT applications.

The idea revolves around super-efficient solar cells that absorb solar energy from space. The energy is then transformed into radio waves and sent to Earth. This space-generated-electricity can benefit remotely located areas where there is no power source nearby. The project has already taken the attention of the defense industry, as it will facilitate them in providing power to forward-operating bases, where previously the fuel is delivered with difficulty or via risky methods. Moreover, the concept enables power generation during the night as well.

Adding to the benefits, it’s a one-time investment that can cut down expensive power generators or systems requiring high capital resources and maintenance. It is specifically an advantage for states facing extreme weather conditions or where data deliveries become troublesome. Such areas also get next to zero sunlight and conventional solar energy projects usually fail here.

The Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project have got approved funding of $100 million for hardware. Scott Turner of Albuquerque Journal says, “Developers envision a system that is a constellation of satellites with solar panels, about 10,000-square meters, or about the size of a football field or tennis court,”

If you have prior knowledge of energy generation processes, you would be aware of how solar panels work; either by direct sunlight absorption or by concentrating the light to produce massive amounts of heat. Explaining the methodology of the project, Maj. Tim Allen, a manager of the project says, “This whole project is building toward wireless power transmission,”

No opposition clearly, there are several positive aspects that can vouch for the idea. The spacecraft won’t be affected by weather transitions as well.

Col. Eric Felt, director of the Space Vehicles Directorate at AFRL, says that we can “capture solar energy in space and precisely beam it to where it is needed” Well, the advantages are big but not just limited to the military. The entire project can be reciprocated for commercial purposes or industries that look forward to producing non-conventional energy sources. Indeed, it is a great addition to the power industry.