Friday, April 17, 2009

Solar power from space?

Science fiction to turn into reality!

Originally proposed by science fiction author Issac Asimov in 1941, the concept of a space station capturing solar energy and beaming it back to earth - seems to become a distinct possibility now.

Solaren, a start up based in Southern California plans to deploy a solar array in space, convert the solar energy into radio frequency waves and beam it back into earth. Unlike nuclear or coal fired plant which have a conversion efficiency of about 33 %, the RF conversion is supposed to get an efficiency of 90%. Further solar arrays will have 8 to 10 times the efficiency of terrestrial solar arrays since they can work continuously ( no night time) and there is no cloud cover or atmospheric impurities.

Find all this difficult to believe? Well, California's PG&E has requested approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to enter into a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp. in Southern California. Solaren would deploy a solar array into space to beam an average of 850 gigawatt hours (“GWh”) for the first year of the term, and 1,700 GWh per year over the remaining term, according to a filing to the PUC.

While Solaren would provide 200MW of electricity to PG&E, according to the filing with the PUC, Solaren anticipates generating a total 1,000MW from its satellite. Expected to go live by 2016.

1 comment:

Anand Joshi said...

This is very cool. MIT is developing technology for wireless transmission of electricity. Will powerline infrastructure disappear at some point in the future?