Last year, the experts concluded that world energy consumption will increase by almost 50% from 2012 to 2040. For several years, scientists from NASA and the Pentagon’s dream to produce energy from the sun, bypassing all the drawbacks of more traditional methods of production of electricity. And, it seems, they have drawn the right solution.
Space solar power slowly started, but this technology can finally take off in the next few decades. Since its appearance among us, solar power had a serious limitation as a renewable source of energy: it depends on the sun light. This limits the field of its successful application in favor of a more dry and Sunny areas, such as California and Arizona, not St. Petersburg and London. And even on a cloudless day the atmosphere absorbs part of the energy radiated by the sun, cutting down the efficiency of solar energy. And let’s not forget that even in the best conditions ground-based solar panels will not see the sun half of the day — at night.
So about five years, scientists from NASA and the Pentagon reflect a different way of increasing the efficiency of solar panels, the most radical way and offer a solution. Was the proposal to withdraw solar panels beyond the atmosphere, many of which require spacecraft equipped with an array of mirrors reflecting sunlight to the device energy conversion. Solar energy can be sent to Earth using laser beams or microwave emitter. There are also ways of modulating wave energy to protect birds, or planes that can get in the way of the beam.
The energy from these cosmic solar panels will not be restricted by clouds, the atmosphere or our circadian cycle. In addition, since solar energy will be absorbed continuously, will not make any sense to save the energy for later use, which is a pretty compelling article in energy costs.
Supporters of this strategy in the energy field say that we have all the necessary scientific data to design and deploy space solar panels, but its opponents, such as Elon Musk argue that the initial costs are too high. In 2012, Musk very negative comments about this idea.
From heaven to earth
As continuing evidence of climate change because of the people, the energy production takes on new tasks into consideration, in addition to dollars and rubles on the price tags. Effective renewable energy source with a small carbon footprint and almost no waste look attractive, so they attracted the interest of many caring individuals, including Paul Jaffe, spacecraft engineer of research laboratory of the U.S. Navy.
In March last year, Jaffe presented his plan to implement space solar power at the summit of D3, which staged the U.S. Department of defense. Out of 500 submissions a plan Jaffe took home four of the seven awards. Jaffe presented the plan and said he could build a demonstration of orbital energy stations, which can provide 150,000 homes with the orbit, in just 10 years and $ 10 billion. And added that these investments will pay off in the long term.
“Over time, everything becomes more efficient. Wind and solar energy is demanded for decades, to begin to compete with the carbon alternatives. I see the same potential here,” said Jaffe in an interview. “In many things the future of space solar power less dependent on scientists and engineers, and more — from people who choose what they want to pay.”
Jaffa is not the only one who sees the vision in this strategy. Japan and China plan to send their own solar space station in the next 25-30 years. In the US, a private company Solaren raises money for the design and demonstration of their option. And even signed a contract with major power supplier PG