The SOLARIS project aims to collect sunlight over a wide area in the room, transform it to microwave energy (similar to high-frequency radio waves found in a microwave oven), then transmit it down to Earth.
Several antennae on Earth would pick up the beams, and the energy converts to electricity.
The advantages of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) are huge because microwaves can penetrate clouds in Earth’s atmosphere and sunlight in space is also known constantly – not just during the day – and the light is more intense.
But the UK also has its separate proposals. Grant worth £6m made known to create SBSP technologies aimed to contribute to the UK’s net zero ambition.
According to a study approved by the government from consultants Frazer-Nash, an operational system could be developed by 2040 and deliver a substantial percentage of the UK’s energy needs by the early 2040s.
Dr. Mamatha Maheshwarappa, payload systems lead at the UK Space Agency, told Sky New This must be a joint (public and private) venture. Government can fund some of the initial de-risking activities but would later need to be supported by private investments.
The principle of SBSP is demonstrated on a small scale.
In September, Airbus beamed microwaves between two points over a distance of 36 meters, producing green hydrogen and bringing a model city to life.
But there are too challenges.
Jean-Dominique Coste from the group at Airbus said if satellites were to manage the sunlight, they would need to estimate approximately 2 kilometers across to achieve the same power level as a nuclear power plant.
Scientists feel it is possible to trap solar power in outer space, beam it to the Earth, and convert it into electricity. With the help of the latest techniques, they hope solar energy delivers at prices equal to or even lower than ground-based alternatives without environmental drawbacks. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has just studied nearly 30 solar energy satellite (SPS) concepts.
Researchers at NASA are probing a method of launching 50 sq km solar panels orbiting in space to gather the Sun’s rays and beam them to the Earth form of microwaves. The ray would then be gathered, by 70 sq km receivers and converted into electricity. John Mankins, who led NASA’s recent Solar Power Satellite (SPS) research, says that scientists have been able to design more efficient and lighter solar panels. So, there is no need to send astronauts into space to fix the components. The state-of-the-art computing method helps each piece of a satellite to assemble itself.
However, Lucien Deschamps, consultant at the study and research division of Electricite de France, says that one of the most important problems with SPS is the cost of space transportation. The present transportation cost for SPS is nearly $10,000 per kg of payload, which makes it extremely expensive to launch solar panels weighing 35-50 tonnes. Unless the transportation cost is reduced, a hundredfold, the project is not feasible.
Harry Ruppe, chair emeritus of room technology at the Technical University of Munich, says that the biggest problem is not the transportation of the SPS but the protection of solar energy involved in beaming the Sun’s power to the Earth. The process has modifications from solar energy to electric power, from electric power to microwaves, and from microwaves back into electric energy.
According to him, the process is only 30 percent efficient. If the proposed goals achieve investment made to improve the efficiency of all the technologies involved in the sport he says.
A solar wind power satellite is a large hypothetical satellite that harvests energy from the solar wind. A stream of energized charged particles from the Sun, the solar wind has the potential to be a major source of energy for human civilizations. In 2010 American scientists Brooks L. Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch proposed the satellite as a feasible alternative to construction, a Dyson sphere, a gigantic sphere conceived in 1960 by British-born American physicist Freeman Dyson as enclosing the parent star of a planet and drawing on the star energy to power the planetary civilization.
To capture the solar wind a solar wind power satellite would rely on a long straight current-carrying copper wire directed toward the Sun. The current would create a magnetic field in concentric circles around the wire. That magnetic field would exert a force, known as a Lorentz force, on moving charged particles turn would attract electrons toward a metal receiver situated on the wire. The channeling of electrons through the receiver would produce current, some of which would transfer back to the copper wire to create a self-sustaining magnetic field. The remainder current would flow through a resistor on the wire and be transformed into a laser beam for long-distance transport to Earth. A large sail would help stabilize the satellite.
Solar wind power satellite technology has the potential to generate a vast amount of power. Harrop claimed that a satellite with a wire 1 km (0.62 miles) in length and a sail 8,400 km (5,220 miles) in width would generate 100 billion times the power needed by humanity annually. In addition, the materials need to construct the satellite would be relatively inexpensive because the satellite would be made mostly of copper. Furthermore, while the magnetic field would attract electrons, it would repel positively charged particles by protecting the satellite from other destructive particles that make up the solar wind.