Global Warming Off Topic Science

CNN article on Solar Power Sats

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HT to Eric Anderson for the link.

How to harvest solar power? Beam it down from space!

By Lara Farrar
For CNN

Story Highlights

-Concept to beam solar power from satellites gains new global momentum

-Massive satellites would beam solar energy back to ground-based receivers

-Pentagon study says could be used for military operations, developing nations

Jyoti is the Hindi word for light. It’s something Pranav Mehta has never had to live without. And he is lucky. Near where he lives in Gujarat — one of the most prosperous states in India — thousands of rural villages lack electricity or struggle with an intermittent supply at best.

“We need to empower these villages, and for empowerment, energy is a must,” Mehta told CNN. “Rural India is suffering a lot because of a lack of energy.”

By 2030, India’s Planning Commission estimates the country will have to generate at least 700,000 megawatts of additional power to meet the demands of its expanding economy and growing population.

Much of that electricity will come from coal-fired power plants, like the $4 billion so-called ultra mega complex scheduled to be built south of Tunda Wand, a tiny village near the Gulf of Kutch, an inlet of the Arabian Sea on India’s west coast. Dozens of other such projects are already or soon will be underway.

Yet Mehta has another solution for India’s chronic electricity shortage — one that does not involve power plants on the ground but instead massive sun-gathering satellites in geosynchronous orbits 22,000 miles up in the sky.

The satellites would electromagnetically beam gigawatts of solar energy back to ground-based receivers, where it would then be converted to electricity and transferred to power grids. And because in high earth orbit, satellites are unaffected by the earth’s shadow virtually 365 days a year, the floating power plants could provide round-the-clock clean, renewable electricity all year round.

Read the rest at the link above.

4 Replies to “CNN article on Solar Power Sats

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    -Massive satellites would beam solar energy back to ground-based receivers

    Egads. What would happen if they missed the receivers?

    -Pentagon study says could be used for military operations, developing nations

    Ah, that answered my question.

  2. 2
    Avonwatches says:

    @1: lol 🙂 I wonder if the Pentagon came up with renewed interest in this idea after watching “Die Another Day”?

    ——

    It sounds great, but another concern is what happens to the stuff between these high-orbit satellites and their receiver: if something (e.g. other satellites for TV, meteorology, GPS, etc) gets in the way of these high powered blasts?

    A similar situation was dealt with in the fiction book “Emergence” by Ray Hammond. Long story short, this altruistic billionaire built a similar thing, though larger (like a giant solar panel in space) and used it to transfer the energy back to earth… it resulted in short-circuiting all the traffic-controlling satellites among other things in this near-future.

    However, reading the report they say a “one kilometre wide band of geo-synchronus satellites”, so I assume we would have to create a space “no fly zone” around them… the logistics of the entire project sound horrifying 🙂

    Sounds like a lot of work, but with a huge payoff (and we aren’t going to see flying cars anytime soon, right, so we should have this!).

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    Nothing bad happens to anything caught in the beam. The energy density is too diffuse. The center of the beam is only twice the maximum level of constant microwave exposure that OSHA sets for the workplace. Not that they need it for this but other satellites are extremely well shielded as they have far greater radiation hazards than diffuse microwaves to deal with. Aircraft are shielded by metal shells. No harmful effects have been found exposing birds and other wildlife to low-level microwaves across multiple generations.

  4. 4

    I hope we take this as an opportunity to also advance our “cooperation skills”, where non-military information about how it is incrementally engineered through federal funds is shared, such as in the free software movement. This is the most scalable solution to the energy shortage that is theoretically already within our technological grasp.

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