Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nations Take New Look at Beaming Power from Space

The idea: Set up a massive satellite orbiting geosynchronously, 22,000 above the surface of the earth, to gather solar energy and beam it back to Earth. It's not a joke. Researchers in India and Japan are fast at work on making this happen, reports CNN. The US looked at this decades ago, but of course abandoned the idea. It would take serious vision to make this work (for example, someone would have had to understand we're only running out of fossil fuel and oil would be over $120 per barrel in the near future), something procrastinating, short-sighted politicians (which is almost every one of them) don't have.

Although the price tag for orbital solar power (we just made up that term) is in the high hundreds of billions (for the satellite, the launches of materials into space and the station back on earth to collect the energy), there's serious potential here. There's more solar energy in one kilometer of space than all of the known oil reserves on Earth. So here's where the vision comes in. One expert told CNN, "The country that takes the lead on space solar power will be the energy-exporting country for the entire planet for the next few hundred years."

Here's a thought. Imagine if, in the future, all electrical devices were capable of absorbing power from high-orbit energy satellites, just like we use satellites for cell phones today. Imagine the possibilities.

Already experts suggest energy satellites could power military operations in the field and beam juice to natural disaster areas.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.