For the first time the idea of space-base solar power was stated in 1968. Recently Japan announced that it looks forward to put the idea into practice by investing $21 billion into the world's first space-based solar-powered generator that will be able to produce 1 gigawatt of energy, which is quite enough to power 294,000 homes.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. together with IHI Corp., industrial design company, have already started working on the new technology that will generate and transmit electricity from space to Earth without cables. Both companies joined a research group that consists of 16 companies that will help Japan launch its 4 sq. km solar space station into space and run it for 30 years.
The Japanese government plans to launch a small satellite equipped with solar panels to test the technology of beaming power through space back to the planet. The launch is expected to take place by 2015. However, researchers have to tackle a number of issues. For example, it is currently too expensive to bring solar panels 36,000 km above earth, thus Japan has to think about ways of cutting costs, reports Bloomberg.
Another problem is that researchers will have to think about securing the technology from micrometeoroids that hold serious threat for the system. You can find more interesting information on various technologies here at www.InfoNIAC.com - check the links at the bottom of the story. The main advantage of solar-based space station is that it can work perfectly non-stop, unlike the systems installed on Earth, where clouds often cover the sun. "It sounds like a science-fiction cartoon, but solar power generation in space may be a significant alternative energy source in the century ahead as fossil fuel disappears," mentioned Kensuke Kanekiyo, managing director of the Institute of Energy Economics, a government research body. link....