Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tiny nation of Palau to be testbed for space based solar power

After recent climate conferences the small western Pacific island nation of Palau has offered to be a testbed for space based solar power. Despite the fact that space based solar power is currently very costly and often not worth the investment there is much room for improvment and in some cases the zero carbon emission energy that can be delivered to remote locations makes it worth the trouble. The proposal is for a very small demonstration satellite in low earth orbit that would be able to beam enough power down as it passes over every day to power 1,000 homes. The solar power would at first be sent to a power station on one of Palau's uninhabited islands in the form of a microwave beam and provide direct current that could be used to charge batteries. The current problem is the lack of the $800 million that the project will cost.

Solar energy is eight times stronger in space then it is after it has passed through the atmosphere this makes it look very appealing to many groups, one group experimenting with space solar power is the Pentagon who is trying to utilize it for military operations. Currently some of the main problems with space based solar power are the cost of the actual instruments, and also the cost of launching the equipment. I would hope that soon enough the technology will be cost effective enough to be practical and will provide us with unlimited zero emissions energy. But as we all know only time will tell.

The Fool

1 comment:

Bob Johnson said...

Very interesting post, didn't know about solar power being 8x stronger in space then on Earth, makes sense though. Happy New Year!