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Principal Author and Editor 21st Century Tech Blog

Futurist, Writer and Researcher, now retired, former freelance writer for new technology ventures. Former President & CEO of Len Rosen Marketing Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on...

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  • May 16, 2022
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In looking at how we can harvest solar energy in space and deliver it to Earth-based receiving stations for transmission through local or national grids, several alternatives to kilometres-square arrays have been proposed. One of these borrows from the current strategy SpaceX is using to deploy a telecommunications network through a constellation of orbiting satellites providing global coverage for data, images and voice transmissions. What can work for telecommunications could conceivably also work for transmitting solar energy to the planet's surface. A prototype of this concept would be far easier and cheaper to deploy than the proposed UK geosynchronous solar power array. And an interesting benefit of the technology would be the ability to use it in point-to-point space to Earth energy transmission in the event of an area on the planet experiencing a natural disaster or war causing disruption to normal power supplies. 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 16, 2022

This is such a fun marriage of a sci-fi moonshot-sounding initiative with something that the smartest people in the room suggest may actually be possible. Question being-- is it something that could come into practice in time for where we need it? 

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on May 17, 2022

Perhaps the effect of various types of weather in disrupting this optimistic scenario might be considered.  While moisture might not be sufficient for GPS disruption (as in http://gpsinformation.net/gpsclouds.htm), the assumed scenario is sending so much energy that it might be relevant there.  Moreover, solar flares do affect this transmission, and this would be relevant.  Geoengineering (as in 

https://www.cfr.org/report/reflecting-sunlight-reduce-climate-risk?gclid...

) has been considered over and over again as this sort of pain-free way to have your cake and eat it, too.  There never seems to have been any study of the environmental or social damage these outer-space proposals could cause, and it is badly needed before these proposals can be taken seriously.

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on May 18, 2022

Let me add one additional comment.  The single example of this sort of power-beaming technology I am able to find was used by the U.S. military, and is discussed in 

https://www.independent.co.uk/space/space-laser-satellite-solar-power-b1...

It would be fruitful if people would get the publicly available information on this demonstration and try to come to an agreement as to how it could be scaled up, and what would be a reasonable test.

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