Is Space-Based Solar Power the Key to Renewable Energy Resources?

By  //  November 13, 2020

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In the ongoing race to find alternate forms of renewable energy sources, the question continues to be ‘how will we power the future?’ There are already plenty of ways to generate electricity through safer, cleaner, renewable energy sources.

As we look to a future better-powered by eco-friendly energy solutions like these, another question to ask is where to build them.

One solution may lie in, of all places, space. Solar power is one of the many renewable energy sources that we must increase dependency on immediately to reverse the impacts of global warming.

Here on earth, there is a finite amount of space to build wind turbines, solar fields, or geothermal power generators. To plan for the long-term expansion of renewable energy resources to power our future world, the truth is – we need to start looking up.

The potential for expansion into space for the future infrastructure of green power and other innovative areas of development is vast. It may sound like science fiction to some, but at the rate technology is advancing in key areas, the concept could become a reality much sooner than you might think.

The California Institute of Technology developed a prototype for the concept of solar power generation in space: a lightweight tile and three critical components to secure functionality.

In addition, reflectors to concentrate the incoming sunlight, photovoltaic cells that take the sunlight and convert it into radiofrequency energy and an antenna to transmit this radiofrequency energy.

With simple, lightweight tiles you can combine them to form larger solar arrays, including in the vast untapped expanse of space.

How could we capture and use radiofrequency energy to power items on earth? The answer is quite simple. A microwave receiver could intercept the radiofrequency energy and convert it into usable energy outputs here on earth.

By deploying solar power systems in space, one major problem with solar power generation (a lack of light at night or during cloudy days) is solved through the repositioning of systems as they float through the expanse of space.

With the global focus on renewable energy more prominent than ever before, it’s time to start thinking bigger and longer-term to find solutions. Solar power generation in the expanse of space could create a virtually limitless source of power for future generations on earth.

Tim Chrisman is the founder and executive director of Foundation for The Future (climb2.space), author of Humanity in Space, a look at the future of the second century of human spaceflight, and former Army Special Operations officer. Foundation for The Future is focused on the creation of a secure, sustainable, and efficient gateway to outer space.

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