At first the idea seems far fetched – beaming solar power from space to help solve our renewable energy issues. However, intrepid engineers at Strathclyde University in Glasgow are envisioning just that, and have put the first technical steps together for their project to build space-based solar energy systems that can send power back to the earth.
They are designing a space-based power station that collects and concentrates the sun’s energy and beams the energy back using lasers and microwaves. The system will be able to beam the energy exactly where it is needed. Massimiliano Vasile, who is leading the project, says initially smaller satellites would be used to generate enough energy for a small village. This application would have special value in remote regions or to disaster areas where other power suppliers are cut off or non-existent.
The project makes extensive use of nano technology to make it possible to launch and assemble the station in space – they essentially launch a collapsed version of the station and blow it up in space using nano pumps. While this sounds far fetched, it’s based on how plants build themselves – nature figured it out millions of years ago.
The aim is to eventually put a large enough structure in space that could gather energy that would be capable of powering a large city. More from the University’s press release.