Japan’s space agency, JAXA, is planning to harvest energy from solar power-generating satellites, and send it back down for use on the Earth’s surface.
This would be an innovative solution to the current issues of solar energy only being available to capture during daylight hours at any particular place on Earth, and the variability of generating capacity due to weather conditions (such as cloud cover). Although difficult to install and maintain, space-based solar power systems would allow for continuous supplies of energy, no matter what weather conditions were like below.
By 2030, Japan plans to send power back from the solar power-generating satellites using laser beams and microwaves. The space agency is apparently already conducting ground-based experiments to work out the best way to transmit energy large distances. The satellites would be stationed 36,000 km above the Earth.
JAXA has said that although there are many technological challenges to making the project work, they are “getting close” to the stage where it is feasible. It’s currently out of the study phase and into the technology demonstration phase. Watch the JAXA video below for more details on Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS)
Image: JAXA. Earth-based energy receiving station.