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The ESA is considering Solari’s solar energy transmission proposal

The ESA is considering Solari's solar energy transmission proposal

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, November 22, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The European Orbit Agency is expected to approve a three-year study this week to find out if it would be possible and cost-effective to build massive solar farms in space.

  • The ultimate goal is to put multiple satellites in orbit that can each make as much electricity as a power plant.

  • “The main goal of the Solaris program is to find out if it is possible to send solar energy collected in space to the electrical grids on Earth.

  • The Solaris team has shown that, in theory, it is possible to send electricity over the air safely and effectively.

  • It hopes to test beaming power from space in six years, and in nine years, it hopes to do so commercially.

Space authorities will look into the possibility of beaming electricity wirelessly into millions of homes from orbit.

The European Orbit Agency is expected to approve a three-year study this week to find out if it would be possible and cost-effective to build massive solar farms in space.

The ultimate goal is to put multiple satellites in orbit that can each make as much electricity as a power plant.

The science ministers will discuss the proposal at their meeting in Paris on Tuesday.

Even though other groups and space agencies have looked into the idea, the so-called Solaris program would be the first to lay the groundwork for a workable plan to build a space-based renewable energy generation system.

The idea is one of several that ministers are talking about at Esa’s triennial council, which will decide the budget for the organization’s future goals in communication, monitoring the environment, and space exploration.

Esa’s director general, Josef Aschbacher, told AUN News that space-based solar energy might be an “enormous” aid in addressing future energy shortages.

“We need to transition to carbon-neutral economies, which means changing the way we create energy, particularly by reducing the portion of our energy production that uses fossil fuels,” he added.

“It would be amazing because it would address many problems if you could do it from space, and I’m saying if we could because we aren’t there yet.”

Because there is no nighttime or cloud cover in space, the sun’s energy may be captured far more effectively. The concept has been around for more than 50 years, but up until maybe now, it has been too expensive and impossible to put into practice.

Launch costs have gone down by a lot, which has been a game changer, thanks to reusable rockets and other innovations made by the private sector. However, improvements in mechanical construction in space and the creation of technology to wirelessly beam electricity from space to Earth have also been made.

ESA is asking its member nations for money for a research program called Solaris to find out if these new technologies make it possible to make space-based solar power reliable and cheap enough to make it a good investment.

The scientist in charge of the Solaris project at Esa, Dr. Sanjay Vijendran, claims that “the concept of space-based solar power is no longer science fiction.”

“The potential is there, but before we can decide to move forward with trying to create something in space, we need to grasp the technological approach thoroughly.”

The main goal of the Solaris program is to find out if it is possible to send solar energy collected in space to the electrical grids on Earth. Of course, using a long cable would be impractical. Thus, the information must be transmitted wirelessly via microwave rays.

The Solaris team has shown that, in theory, it is possible to send electricity over the air safely and effectively.

Engineers wirelessly transmitted 2 KW of solar cell output to collectors more than 30 meters away during a September airplane demonstration at the aerospace company Airbus in Munich. Sending gigawatts of power over thousands of kilometers will be a significant advancement. Still, according to Jean-Dominique Coste, senior manager for Airbus’ blue-sky business, it might be accomplished in a series of modest stages.

Our team of scientists says that there are no technical problems that stop us from getting solar power from space.

Emrod, the company that made the wireless beaming system, and Dr. Ray Simpkin, its chief scientist, said the technology was safe.

“Nothing will burn,” he assured AUN News.

Even at the peak intensity in the center of the beam, the power is dispersed over a sufficiently broad region to pose little threat to either people or animals.

In the battle to build space-based solar power, the US, China, and Japan are also well ahead and are soon expected to reveal their proposals. Separate from the ESA concept, a business called Space Solar has been established in the UK. It hopes to test beaming power from space in six years, and in nine years, it hopes to do so commercially.

In line with ESA’s predictions, an independent evaluation by the UK government found that a satellite might be possible by 2040 to produce as much electricity as a power plant, or about 2 GW. But Dr. Vijendran says that if there was more money and political support, it could be done in less than ten years. This is similar to US President John F. Kennedy’s plan in 1961 to send an American astronaut to the moon’s surface.

He claims that it “may be the moonshot for our generation.”

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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