Space-Based Solar Power May Yet Happen

SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) is a creative idea to solve our power problems. The basic idea is to place tens of thousands of lightweight, inflatable modules space in orbit around the earth. Once assembled into a huge bell-shaped structure, mirrors will concentrate energy from the sun onto solar panels. The energy thus collected would then be beamed down to ground stations on Earth using microwaves.


(Space-based solar power array)

“SBSP is the ultimate energy source for the world and eventually it's going to replace nearly everything else,” says Ralph Nansen of US-based advocacy group Solar High, with some of the characteristic hyperbole that defines both sides of the SBSP debate. “I don't think there's any doubt that within the next century we will be getting the majority of our power from space. It's just a question of when.”

Nansen, like other SBSP advocates, contends that instead of building huge solar farms on the surface of the Earth, which are at the mercy of fluctuating weather conditions and the cycle of day and night, mankind should fly a little closer to the sun. Specifically, they advocate building solar farms in geostationary orbit 35,800km (22,000 miles) above the Earth's surface. There, sunlight has an intensity of 1,347 Watts per metre squared - about 30% more intense than on the Earth's surface, meaning greater electricity production. And depending on its orbital position, an SBSP system could harness direct sunlight almost the entire year round, unlike terrestrial solar farms.

Budding entrepreneurs may find enthusiasm from Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson, who sees its potential, but has no immediate plans to invest in SBSP research or development.

“The only way to get solar energy that is truly plentiful, reliable, and available from anywhere is through SBSP, but the set-up costs are exorbitant,” he says. However, commercially-funded SBSP might take off if it is initially used to deliver power to markets and locations that are “insensitive to price,” such as military positions, disaster scenes, and search and rescue operations, he adds.

The article credits Isaac Asimov's 1941 short story Reason with originating the idea of a solar station. However, I think Olaf Stapledon was earlier with his Near-Space Solar Energy Collectors from his 1937 novel Star Maker.

Via SPS-ALPHA and a very detailed article at BBC.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/28/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

When Will We See The First Space Hotel?
'The heart of it was a vast hexagonal structure of welded metal, ten miles across...' - Jack Williamson, 1939.

SpaceX Starhopper Has Flash Gordon Style
SpaceX makes retro cool spacecraft.

A Floating Cosmodrome
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.' - Otfrid von Hanstein, 1930.

Space-Based Solar Power Roundup
Who first thought about this concept?

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Entire Planet Modeled In New MS Flight Sim
'CIC uses [it] to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns...'

FlyZoo Robot Hotel By Alibaba
'... hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Implanted Memories Provide Songs To Birds
Finches can't tell the difference.

Robot Tuna Swims As Fast As Nature's Tuna
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'

Shapeshifter Robot Is Comprised Of Cobots
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed. For an interval, the device struggled with itself...'

Google Commits To Fighting Deepfakes
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

China Accused Of Harvesting Organs From Unwanted Groups
'The death penalty was his immortality, and he would vote the death penalty for any crime at all.'

Osmiridium Sounds Like Science Fiction (But It's Not!)
I can't resist science-fictional elements. Especially when they're real.

When Will We See The First Space Hotel?
'The heart of it was a vast hexagonal structure of welded metal, ten miles across...'

SpaceX Starhopper Has Flash Gordon Style
SpaceX makes retro cool spacecraft.

Mindar The Robot Buddhist Priest Offers A Blessing
'Not working is the hardest work of all.'

Does Your Company Need A 'Chief Dreamer'?
As far as the future is concerned 'they're the only experts we have'.

Helios Modular Touch Screen Wall Lights
'The walls and ceiling bore an irregular spacing of illuminum tiles...'

Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
'With a buzz... it started out on its journey.'

Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.