Space-based solar again

Paul Raven @ 10-07-2009

solar eclipseSpace-based solar power is about as science fictional as an energy solution can be, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from trying to make it a reality. We mentioned Solaren’s combined energy platform and hurricane killer idea back in April; now here’s PowerSat, who (naturally) have their own unique selling point:

Most proposals for space-based solar have involved a constellation of satellites, each transferring those 17MW to a central unit for transmission back to earth. This adds to the complexity of the system and means at least one satellite has to integrate a very large amount of power. PowerSat hopes to avoid all that. The satellites will receive a pilot signal from the ground and use that to coordinate their energy-carrying return signal to the ground-based receiver. “The satellites act as a radio frequency cloud to create a phase array of phased arrays,” Maness says.

When the microwave signal hits the ground, the transmission from each satellite should be additive—all of which dramatically cuts down the weight and complexity of the hardware that has to be put into orbit.

There are, of course, concerns about the effects of the power transmission beams when they reach the surface, but PowerSat are convinced (after researching thoroughly) that there would be no harm to humans, animals or anything else living. However, the beam would certainly knock out your mobile phone signal – which is a pretty minor flaw, but one that’s bound to create a significant obstacle to PowerSat’s plans… [image by James Jordan]