Space-Based Solar Power May Yet Happen
SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) is a creative idea to solve our power problems. The basic idea is to place tens of thousands of lightweight, inflatable modules space in orbit around the
earth. Once assembled into a huge bell-shaped structure, mirrors will concentrate energy from the sun onto solar panels. The energy thus collected would then be beamed down to ground stations on Earth using microwaves.
(Space-based solar power array)
“SBSP is the ultimate energy source for the world and eventually it's going to replace nearly everything else,” says Ralph Nansen of US-based advocacy group Solar High, with some of the characteristic hyperbole that defines both sides of the SBSP debate. “I don't think there's any doubt that within the next century we will be getting the majority of our power from space. It's just a question of when.”
Nansen, like other SBSP advocates, contends that instead of building huge solar farms on the surface of the Earth, which are at the mercy of fluctuating weather conditions and the cycle of day and night, mankind should fly a little closer to the sun. Specifically, they advocate building solar farms in geostationary orbit 35,800km (22,000 miles) above the Earth's surface. There, sunlight has an intensity of 1,347 Watts per metre squared - about 30% more intense than on the Earth's surface, meaning greater electricity production. And depending on its orbital position, an SBSP system could harness direct sunlight almost the entire year round, unlike terrestrial solar farms.
Budding entrepreneurs may find enthusiasm from Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson, who sees its potential, but has no immediate plans to invest in SBSP research or development.
“The only way to get solar energy that is truly plentiful, reliable, and available from anywhere is through SBSP, but the set-up costs are exorbitant,” he says. However, commercially-funded SBSP might take off if it is initially used to deliver power to markets and locations that are “insensitive to price,” such as military positions, disaster scenes, and search and rescue operations, he adds.
The article credits Isaac Asimov's 1941 short story Reason with originating the idea of a solar station. However, I think Olaf Stapledon was earlier with his Near-Space Solar Energy Collectors from his 1937 novel Star Maker.
Via SPS-ALPHA and a very detailed article at BBC.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/28/2013)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.
Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?
NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.
Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...' - Pohl/Kornbluth, 1952.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Sci-Fi Helps Young Readers Build Resiliency
'Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world.'
I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'
Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'
Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'
Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'
Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'
MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'
AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'
E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'
Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'
Bosch Smartglasses Laser Paints AR Image On Your Retina
'Soon we'll be testing a system that projects directly on the retina of the eye.'
Maybe We Could Hibernate Until The Covid-19 Pandemic's End
'Cold-rest was a common last resort therapy for functional psychoses.'
Workplace Monitoring Hell, I Mean, Tool For Safe Distancing
'And here is the weirdest part -- I never see another employee the entire day.'
Patent Office Says AIs Cannot Be Inventors
'The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let 'em get.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories