Satellites could soon beam clean power down to Earth — all details here
Spaceagencies are considering a clean energy sourcefor Earth via laser or microwave beaming.
- This technology could help space agencies to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- NASA and other space agencies have granted a commission to study space-based
AdvertisementThe idea of space-based weapons has been orbiting around and now space agencies are thinking about a decades-old idea to beam clean power down to Earth via laser or microwave beaming.
NASA, the European Space Agency and the British government are considering using space-based solar power (SBSP) to Earth with the help of microwave transmitting and laser transmitting satellites. This technology could help space agencies to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The UK has already developed two solar power based satellites (SPS) – the SPS-Alpha – designed by Mankins Space Technology and ‘CASSIOPeiA’ developed by the International Electric Company. Both the satellites work as microwave transmitters by converting solar radiation into microwaves and later beaming them to the Earth-based rectifying antenna to feed the local power grid.
The policy analyst for NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy, Nikolai Joseph has said that NASA is re-evaluating the potential of SBSP. Further, Joseph said, NASA has discussed SBSP's potential with the US Space Force and other technical agencies.
Also read: After banning destructive satellite tests, US plans to use nuclear power systems in space
The Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute and Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency are conducting their own wireless power-transmission experiments in space to develop a roadmap for commercial use of SBSP.
How does SBSP work?
SBSP or Self-assembling satellites, reflectors and laser power transmitters are launched all together into space. Once launched, reflectors are spread in space to direct solar radiation onto solar panels. These panels convert solar power into laser or microwave and later beam down the power to Earth via satellites. Power receiving stations collect the laser beam and add it to the local electric grid.
The microwave beaming system can provide 1GW of emergency which is more than enough to power a large city whereas the laser system produces 1-10MW of energy per satellite.
However, the use of SBSP has its own challenges. Microwave transmitting solar satellites need to go around 35,000 km into space for optimal use. Solar power stations may cover 5 square miles of the area which is equivalent to 14,000 football fields.
It is estimated that a single satellite launch can cost from a low of $50 million to $400 million.
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