Look! Up in the sky! It’s a…solar space station?
If China – who is leading the solar space charge – has its way, we’ll be seeing those around the year 2050. Why on Earth, where there is so much land and water, are we even looking into space? Answer: the world’s population is exploding and so is the need to power that world, especially in countries that aren’t that sunny like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland and those such as Japan with limited land.
Solar in space isn’t new. It was explored by NASA researchers some 30 years ago but abandoned when the technology of the time was not sophisticated enough. Now, with astounding advances in photovoltaic cells and wireless transmission, the idea of harnessing space sunlight to power up earth is being viewed as viable.
One outstanding benefit of beaming solar power from space to earth is that, in space, it’s always sunny. No snowstorms. No thunderstorms. No night. Just PV technology working 24/7.
However, the obstacles remain daunting. They include the weight of PV panels, the anticipated cost of more than $1 billion per each solar power station and building and locating the large microwave receivers on earth.
When those obstacles are overcome, let’s hope Hal will open the pod bay doors.
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Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services