Solar farms in space could be renewable energy's next frontier
23 replies, posted
China wants to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050 and is building a test facility to find the best way to send power to the ground.
Dyson sphere when?
In all seriousness though, the cost of sending these things into orbit and finding some way to transfer that power back to Earth will vastly outweigh the cost of solar farms on Earth for a LONG time. Cool idea, though.
Pretty sure NASA had similar plans back during the space race.
How would they "beam energy to Earth" without heating the atmosphere or I don't get something?
They also talk about prototype which can "wirelessly transmit 10 gigahertz of power" but, how precise would sender and receiver have to be if you have to send energy from space, won't it affect area near receiver (electronics, animals and etc), is it actually safe?
It's fairly safe if you choose a signal that's not absorbed by the atmosphere/can be focused well/is badly absorbed by animals.
I suspect it would always be an EMP-ray and if implemented economically also a death ray, though.
Easy: send a constant supply of laptop batteries to it and it fills them up and just drops 'em somewhere onto the earth for anyone to pick up and use
A controlled version of lightning might do it.
in short, we don't really know. On paper they seem to be able to get these things to work but in practice nobody's really tried on any significant scale. JAXA supposedly has done some work but its very limited
The big microwave collector idea is similar to how wireless chargers work currently though, but with the massive distance between them. the collector beams down onto a giant microwave collector array that then converts it into electricity directly.
there's a lot of efficiency losses but the idea is that it doesn't matter since the arrays are harnessing so much power, but we don't really know if the generating capability outweighs the efficiency losses.
The cost sending them up is the problem, channeling the energy down isn't so hard iirc. You just have them reflect the sunlight.
i wouldn't be surprised if it were designed in a fashion that it could be weaponized in some way, or a weaponized form being developed in parallel to the utility form
Knowing what china is, i'ts probably going to double as a solar-focusing array/death laser.
I'm not that worried about it being used as some super secret weapon as much rather what unsuccessful attempts will cause.
Friendly reminder that if we polute our orbit with too much debris, we can say goodbye to any technology that relies on satellites as the high-speed junk will destroy them, which in turn will create more debris which in turn will etc etc.
Another important issue is how they're going to deal with Solar Radiation Pressure.
A giant thing that reflects sunlight in space is not going to stay in any given position forever; just like a solar sail, it's going to be moved, and not in the direction people want it to go.
A small reaction control system can deal with that for a really long time. Occasionally you'd refill it with whatever propellant needed.
For those curious, the field of technology that wireless energy transfer falls under is called far-field transmission. I've linked the Wikipedia as a primer - I encourage those interested to do their own research into the nuances.
In general, though, as people have suggested earlier in the thread, far-field generally involves either a really big radio dish for microwaves, or a really big laser for... well, lasers.
Eh Just run the cable down the space elevator - future electrcian
A space elevator would be the most efficient method in the long run. Being able to run hard lines means a lot less energy wasted in heat and dispersion from using microwaves or other similar light based power transmission. The up front cost would be astronomical, but once built you would be able to send new solar farm parts up at a significantly lower cost per payload than via rocket.
That up front cost is whats going to keep something like that from becoming a reality for a long time tough.
I honestly doubt a space elevator is possible at all.
I think you mean 'In Earth Gravity' because space elevators on the Moon and Mars are already possible. I think we'd see an interplanetary society before we see space elevators, though.
Haven't they played the Bouncer? Some guy named Dauragon is gonna turn it into a space laser for sure.
I edited to specify that 2 minutes before you replied
There are many workable plans for cleaning up the orbits.
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