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SolarEn To Sell Satellite Solar Power

SolarEn Corp. is dangling the prospect of solar power beamed to Earth from satellites in front of California's biggest energy utility PG&E.

Solar panels in Earth orbit would collect solar energy and convert it to weak microwave radiation that would be focused on a collector down on Earth.


(Microwave beam converted into electricity)

This idea has a respectable science fiction pedigree. Take a look at the solar energy beam that Clifford Simak wrote about in 1941. Even earlier, Olaf Stapledon wrote about near-space solar energy collectors in 1937.

But can SolarEn pull it off?

SolarEn's team includes satellite engineers and scientists, primarily from the U.S. Air Force and Hughes Aircraft Company, with decades of experience in the space industry. Its CEO, Gary Spirnak, was a spacecraft project engineer in the U.S. Air Force and director of advanced digital applications at Boeing Satellite Systems, among other positions.

In 2007, a major study by the Defense Department's National Security Space Office gave the concept another boost, concluding that "there is enormous potential for energy security, economic development, improved environmental stewardship . . and overall national security for those nations who construct and possess a SBSP capability."

The study group further declared, "Space-Based Solar Power is more technically executable than ever before and current technological vectors promise to further improve its viability."

SolarEn needs to get its hardware in readiness; PG&E announced a deal on Monday to purchase 200 megawats of power starting in 2016.

From Next100 via MSNBC

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