Every form of energy we have can eventually be traced back to the Sun. Space based solar power solves the on/off problem of terrestrial solar power, and could be delivered nearly anywhere on the planet 24/7/365. These characteristics make space based solar power a virtually unlimited, clean baseload power source.
Currently, payload launch-to-orbit costs are the single biggest hurdle to developing and deploying space based solar power. While it would be a massive and complex engineering project, no basic science breakthroughs are needed before space based solar power could be implemented.
Space based solar power is not a short-term solution to our energy needs. Domestic fossil fuel resources would provide a “bridge” to its eventual implementation … but fossil fuel will be a “bridge to nowhere”, unless we start developing space based solar power very soon.
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power*
*I’m a purely self-appointed advocate, and I have no financial stake in space based solar power. I simply believe that it will eventually be the solution to our energy future.
“Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.”
“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.
Lonnie Johnson, an Atlanta-based scientist and inventor, has worked for SAC and JPL, holds about 100 patents … and he invented The Super Soaker squirt gun! The revenue from squirt gun sales has allowed him to continue to be creative and he was recently honored for a new technology deemed the “Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter System” (JTEC). It is a solid state, closed system thermodynamic engine that uses a temperature differential to generate electrical energy by pushing hydrogen ions through two membranes. The closed JTEC system does not burn oxygen and heat is the only fuel required. It is claimed to be highly scalable and suitable for space-based applications.
When I read about JTEC, I thought it might be a possible alternative to PV cells for collecting and converting space-based solar power. The naturally occurring temperature differential in the vacuum of space would fuel the system and it seems like it might be much easier to harden it against damage from micrometeorites and space debris.
Here is the website where I read about JTEC: Johnson Electro Mechanical Systems : JTEC. I hope some of the contributors here will take a look at JTEC and see if it merits further evaluation for a space-based solar power application.