The Big Question: Can space based solar power end world’s energy problems

Space based solar power

Why are we asking this now?

We all are in terrible crisis and a hectic, desperate scamper for an escape has begun. Now that we have tested possibly all the ways to ensure a better future through the use of diverse renewable sources of energy, we are in the process of experiment with the most bizarre forms of energy. The reason is clear – the frantic hunt for a secure future has entered minds and the fear of soiling even the renewable sources has begun to haunt mankind. Space-based solar power is one of them. Of course not without reason, researchers are taking keen interest in the grandfather of solar energy. The concept in itself is not new; it had already been established in 1968.

Is it really that serious?

Oh absolutely! The entire concept revolves around the fact that while the solar energy after entering the earth’s atmosphere gets scattered thus resulting in a loss of energy, this loss can be prevented if this energy is trapped outside the atmosphere, converted into microwaves, and sent into the earth. Not only would this prevent loss of energy, but other means of atmospheric dependence like climatic conditions, position of clouds etc. could also be eliminated. This idea has been a core issue for all the scholastic minds in the world. Imparting a pat of encouragement, PG&E, based in California, proposed that it would invariably buy 200 MW of solar energy that had been refined in space by year 2016. Truly serious, is it not?

What others are saying?

Our energy researchers are more than happy. Most of them seem to agree that space based solar energy could truly be a solution to the massive energy crunch that is munching on huge funds of most countries all round the globe. Scientists are of the opinion that while exhaustible sources like fossils and nuclear metals like uranium would be eventually washed off the earth’s crust, solar energy trapped outside the earth’s gaseous layer has nothing to do with the conditions prevailing inside it. It is something that is sourced from our star and is sure to flow in consistently till the Sun is alive and that is a really vast period of time. Secondly, while solar, wind and hydel energy are subject to changes in the climatic and biological conditions on the earth, space based solar power would not face such constraints. You see, pure, clean energy in its most potent state – that is what SBSP is!

The developments

As has been stated earlier, PG&E has agreed to purchase electricity developed through this unique method. It is a fifteen years contract with Solaren Corporation. The production process would be by trapping solar energy in solar panels grooved into satellites orbiting the earth. These solar panels have the mechanism to convert the solar energy into electricity and further into radio waves which would be transmitted to receivers positioned in California. From here, the power would be transferred into PG&E’s energy grid. It is being estimated that the panels have a capability to produce 1700 gigawatt-hours of energy, a statistic that is adequate to power 2,50,000 homes annually. The world could expect a huge change in the way it is being lighted up right now and with the evolution of this concept into practical truth.

The main hurdles

The SBSP matter is sure to face hard facts though it is a convincing idea. First, the type of solar cell that the satellites would use has not yet been determined, and we have time just till 2016. Time really has wings. Secondly, the pilot project is yet to be launched and the whole thing would cost millions of dollars even at a pilot level. Flinching, but true! Thirdly, the armoring of these satellites to occurrences like solar storms has not yet been clarified. As such, it is hard to imagine how such huge and confident claims are being made with such simplicity!

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