European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) subsidiary Astrium is seeking to scale up ground based demonstrations by getting public agencies and corporations interested in funding an orbital demonstration project. The company is projecting having a 10-20KW demonstrator in orbit, perhaps on the International Space Station, within five years. Astrium engineers are focusing on using infrared lasers to beam the collected energy back to the surface instead of the more traditional microwave beam approach.
This isn’t the first time Aviation Week & Space Technology has reported on space-based solar power, but it is the first time in a while and it may signify an up-tick in activities around the world.
I’ll make my plea once again … U.S. government agencies and private corporations must get on the space-based solar power development path soon or we will be left playing catch-up once again. It seems to me that Lockheed Martin Corporation is the perfect United States’ answer to EADS-Astrium’s efforts on the European continent.
This 18 minute TEDx London presentation by Peter Sage of Space Energy presents current information on just about every aspect of Space Based Solar Power. Although my usual sources have been quiet lately, apparently there is a lot still going on towards launching this game-changing and unlimited source of clean, available baseload power.
“In this issue, the Journal advances the proposition that the next generation of satellite services will be to gather sun’s energy in space and to deliver it to earth as a clean and sustainable source of electrical power. In the 21st century, the need for alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity has become so great that space is now a real option.”
Ralph Nansen, author of ENERGY CRISIS: Solutions from Space, and former Manager of the Solar Power Satellite Program for The Boeing Company is the guest editor for this edition of the Online Journal of Space Communication.
Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) — Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades and beam electricity to earth.
A research group representing 16 companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., will spend four years developing technology to send electricity without cables in the form of microwaves, according to a statement on the trade ministry’s Web site today.
An undated handout illustration (left) shows Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS), which beams the electricity using microwaves from space through the ionosphere, the outermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere, provided to the media on Sep. 1, 2009.
WOW! My wish in the April 1st post has already started to come true! It was:
“What we desperately need now is for American corporations and entrepreneurs to apply American ingenuity and start competitive efforts so that the free market forces can forge the best Space-Based Solar Power solutions for the entire planet.”
In an April 13th post on the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) blog NEXT100, they have announced their intent to sign a contract to purchase space-based solar power from an American startup company Solaren, starting in 2016. Here’s a quote from the post:
“Now PG&E is extending that approach to tap renewable energy at an entirely new level: solar power in space.
PG&E is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp., a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power over a 15 year period.
Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.”
There is also an interview on PG&E’s NEXT100 blog with the Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak.
For a private startup company, Solaren has taken on quite a tall order to be delivering 200 megawatts of space-based solar power by 2016. Nonetheless, I am going to celebrate the PG&E announcement and keep a close eye on Solaren’s progress while looking out for more and more startup’s to get into the space-based solar power race.
While this may only be the first step of a 22,000 mile journey, we’ve got to start somewhere. Our current energy future is simply unsustainable.
I was searching for any recent activity on Space-Based Solar Power when I simply happened on the website of Space Energy, a Swiss company with plans to commercialize the concept. Here are their Vision and Mission statements, excerpted from the Space Energy website:
Vision statement – Space Energy, Inc. intends to become the world’s leading commercial enterprise in the field of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) which will improve the lives of millions of people by bringing a source of safe, clean energy to the planet.
Mission statement – To develop, own, and operate the first SBSP satellites to provide base-load and emergency electrical power to customers around the globe at affordable, fair market prices.
What we desperately need now is for American corporations and entrepreneurs to apply American ingenuity and start competitive efforts so that the free market forces can forge the best Space-Based Solar Power solutions for the entire planet.