China is taking its renewable energy push to new heights, with scientists revealing plans to build the first solar power station in space.
With plans to launch a test facility before 2025, China’s Academy of Space Technology is working on an orbital power plant that would capture solar energy in space and beam it back to Earth.
A solar power station orbiting the earth at 36,000 kilometres could tap the energy of the sun’s rays without interference from the atmosphere, or seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight. Construction of an early experimental space power plant has begun in the inland city of Chongqing.
The plant would be able to harness solar power even when it’s cloudy back on Earth, since its photovoltaic array would be floating high above any terrestrial weather.
Needless to say, the biggest problem for a floating power plant is figuring out how to get the energy back down to Earth.
The scientists behind the project are still sorting that part out. But right now, the plan is to have solar arrays in space capture light from the sun and then beam electricity down to a facility on Earth in the form of a microwave or a laser.
From there, the electricity could be used just as if it had been generated by conventional, terrestrial means.
If the launch goes well and the energy-transmitting beam works like it’s supposed to, the Chinese scientists have plans to test and launch bigger and more powerful facilities through 2050.
Reference- The Sydney Morning Herald, Futurism, China’s Science and Technology Daily