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Energy solar farms in space  next step in renewable energy | Upload Solar

Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy

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by: Marike Boonstra
solar farms in space  next step in renewable energy | Upload

The green energy revolution continues to accelerate - solar parks are a familiar sight all over the world. But China wants to take solar energy to a whole new level. The nation’s ambition is to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050. With this power station, China will have access to the most reliable source of renewable energy, since the sun always shines in space. If this difficult and costly plan will work, it will make China the first nation to harness the sun’s energy in space and beam it to Earth. Are solar farms in spaces the answer to our prayers or a mission impossible?

Solar energy: the inexhaustible source

It seems to be a great idea: space-based solar power as an inexhaustible source of energy. "You don’t have to deal with the day and night cycle, and you don’t have to deal with clouds or seasons, so you end up having eight to nine times more power available to you," said Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and director of the university’s Space Solar Power Project for solar farms in space.

(Recommended: Solar Energy Turned Into Liquid Fuel Can Be Stored For 18 Years)

Energy demands

So why haven’t anyone thought of this before? Well, the thought of using solar farms in space is nothing new. The idea was very vivid in the 1970s. The research stalled largely because the technological demands of a solar power station in space were thought to be too complex. But nowadays, there is a huge progression in technology compared to a few years ago. The improvements in the design and efficiency of photovoltaic cells and advances in wireless transmission are making it possible to pick up where researchers left off.

How much of a difference will these improvements make? Asked John Mankins, a physicist who led the agency’s efforts in the field in the 1990s before NASA abandoned the investigating. “We’re seeing a bit of a resurgence now, and it’s probably because the ability to make solar farms in space is there, thanks to new technologies."  

According to Mankins, there is another factor driving the revived interest in this kind of renewable power. The world’s population is growing – it’s expected to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Space-based solar power can become essential to meet the energy demands of people in parts of the world that aren’t particularly sunny. “If you look at the next 50 years, the demand for energy is stupendous. If you can harvest sunlight with solar farms in space where the sun is always shining and deliver it with essentially no interruptions to Earth — and you can do all that at an affordable price, you win."



                                                                     Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy
                                                                              

Mission impossible?

Details of China’s plan remain a secret. According to Mankins, the nation can 'launch tens of thousands of 'solar satellites' that would link up to form an enormous cone-shaped structure that orbits about 22,000 miles above Earth. They would be covered with photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into energy, which would be beamed wirelessly to ground-based receivers. Such a solar facility could generate a steady flow of 2,000 gigawatts of power.’ There are still some hurdles to overcome, like the weight of the solar panels.

(Recommended: Waste In Space Will Be Fetched By The Cubesail carbage Truck)

It will also cost billions of dollars to make these solar farms in space happen. The research, the tests and the solar satellites itself (price tag: about ten billion each) will make this a very expensive project – to say the least. China hasn’t revealed how much it’s spending to develop its solar power stations, but the China Daily reported that the nation is already building a test facility in the southwestern city of Chongqing. It doesn’t seem like a mission impossible. China is taking a key position in the development of solar farms in space.

According to John Mankins, a solar power station in space is a wonderful thing. “For a lot of locations, rooftop solar is fabulous, but a lot of the world is not like Arizona (or other sunny places). Millions of people live where large, ground-based solar arrays are not economical,” he said. Mankins hailed recent developments in the field and said he is keen to follow China’s new initiative.

What do you think - is this next step in renewable energy?

(Recommended: All About Solar Energy)

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Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy

The green energy revolution continues to accelerate - solar parks are a familiar sight all over the world. But China wants to take solar energy to a whole new level. The nation’s ambition is to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050. With this power station, China will have access to the most reliable source of renewable energy, since the sun always shines in space. If this difficult and costly plan will work, it will make China the first nation to harness the sun’s energy in space and beam it to Earth. Are solar farms in spaces the answer to our prayers or a mission impossible? Solar energy: the inexhaustible source It seems to be a great idea: space-based solar power as an inexhaustible source of energy. "You don’t have to deal with the day and night cycle, and you don’t have to deal with clouds or seasons, so you end up having eight to nine times more power available to you," said Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and director of the university’s Space Solar Power Project for solar farms in space. ( Recommended: Solar Energy Turned Into Liquid Fuel Can Be Stored For 18 Years ) Energy demands So why haven’t anyone thought of this before? Well, the thought of using solar farms in space is nothing new. The idea was very vivid in the 1970s. The research stalled largely because the technological demands of a solar power station in space were thought to be too complex. But nowadays, there is a huge progression in technology compared to a few years ago. The improvements in the design and efficiency of photovoltaic cells and advances in wireless transmission are making it possible to pick up where researchers left off. How much of a difference will these improvements make? Asked John Mankins, a physicist who led the agency’s efforts in the field in the 1990s before NASA abandoned the investigating. “We’re seeing a bit of a resurgence now, and it’s probably because the ability to make solar farms in space is there, thanks to new technologies."   According to Mankins, there is another factor driving the revived interest in this kind of renewable power. The world’s population is growing – it’s expected to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Space-based solar power can become essential to meet the energy demands of people in parts of the world that aren’t particularly sunny. “If you look at the next 50 years, the demand for energy is stupendous. If you can harvest sunlight with solar farms in space where the sun is always shining and deliver it with essentially no interruptions to Earth — and you can do all that at an affordable price, you win." {youtube}                                                                       Solar Farms In Space: Next Step In Renewable Energy                                                                                Mission impossible? Details of China’s plan remain a secret. According to Mankins, the nation can 'launch tens of thousands of 'solar satellites' that would link up to form an enormous cone-shaped structure that orbits about 22,000 miles above Earth. They would be covered with photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into energy, which would be beamed wirelessly to ground-based receivers. Such a solar facility could generate a steady flow of 2,000 gigawatts of power.’ There are still some hurdles to overcome, like the weight of the solar panels. ( Recommended: Waste In Space Will Be Fetched By The Cubesail carbage Truck ) It will also cost billions of dollars to make these solar farms in space happen. The research, the tests and the solar satellites itself (price tag: about ten billion each) will make this a very expensive project – to say the least. China hasn’t revealed how much it’s spending to develop its solar power stations, but the China Daily reported that the nation is already building a test facility in the southwestern city of Chongqing. It doesn’t seem like a mission impossible. China is taking a key position in the development of solar farms in space. According to John Mankins, a solar power station in space is a wonderful thing. “For a lot of locations, rooftop solar is fabulous, but a lot of the world is not like Arizona (or other sunny places). Millions of people live where large, ground-based solar arrays are not economical,” he said. Mankins hailed recent developments in the field and said he is keen to follow China’s new initiative. What do you think - is this next step in renewable energy? ( Recommended: All About Solar Energy )