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"A penny for your thoughts"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Harvesting solar power from space via orbiting solar farms

The solar energy available in space is up to ten times greater than on Earth as there's no atmospheric or cloud interference to contend with, no real night and no seasons. When solar power could somehow be harvested from space, it could be a baseload resource instead of an intermittent source of power.

While this technology may seem decades away, perhaps only possible next century;
US company Portland Gas & Electric is seeking approval from regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp., a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power from space over a 15 year period, commencing in 2016. Getting the power from the solar panels affixed to orbiting platforms back to Earth is base on the concept of converting it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station, which then converts it back into electricity.

Solaren will place solar panels in earth orbit, transmit the energy to a receiving station in Fresno County, which will then be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid. Space elevator may be utilised to put these solar panels into space.
A space elevator would consist of a cable anchored to the Earth's surface, reaching into space. By attaching a counterweight at the end (or by further extending the cable for the same purpose), inertia ensures that the cable remains stretched taut, countering the gravitational pull on the lower sections, thus allowing the elevator to remain in geostationary orbit. Once beyond the gravitational midpoint, carriage would be accelerated further by the planet's rotation. (Diagram not to scale.)
Related Post:
The solar-powered air conditioner

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