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 ")

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.' - Nat Schachner, 1937.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

 

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

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'

'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

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.