space solar

CNN has a brief article on the possibility of beaming solar power to earth from space:

The satellites would electromagnetically beam gigawatts of solar energy back to ground-based receivers, where it would then be converted to electricity and transferred to power grids. And because in high Earth orbit, satellites are unaffected by the earth’s shadow virtually 365 days a year, the floating power plants could provide round-the-clock clean, renewable electricity. […]

American scientist Peter Glaser introduced the idea of space solar power in 1968.

NASA and the United States Department of Energy studied the concept throughout the 1970s, concluding that although the technology was feasible, the price of putting it all together and sending it to outer space was not.

“The estimated cost of all of the infrastructure to build them in space was about $1 trillion,” said John Mankins, a former NASA technologist and president of the Space Power Association. “It was an unimaginable amount of money.”

NASA revisited space solar power with a so-called “Fresh Look” study in the mid-90s but the research lost momentum when the space agency decided it did not want to further pursue the technology, Mankins told CNN. By around 2002 the project was indefinitely shelved — or so it seemed.

“The conditions are ripe for something to happen on space solar power,” said Charles Miller, a director of the Space Frontier Foundation, a group promoting public access to space. “The environment is perfect for a new start.”

Full Story: CNN