18 April 2009

Air Force Looking At Space Solar Power

Air Force Looking At Space-Based Solar Power Possibilities, Inside theAir Force, January 30, 2009
The Air Force is looking at space-based power technology as a way toprovide "metropolitan-class" energy for the nation as well as possiblybeaming megawatts of electricity directly to forward-deployed bases,according to the service's chief scientist. The general idea behind thisinitiative is to place large solar arrays or reflectors intogeosynchronous orbit, Air Force Chief Scientist Werner Dahm told Inside the Air Force during a Jan. 26 interview in his Pentagon office. The arrays could generate their own power, while the reflectors could reflect the Sun's light and concentrate it onto smaller arrays or a"heat engine" to generate power. The energy created could then be beamedto the ground by way of microwave transmission. The energy collector onEarth would most likely be placed in the desert, because the receiving suite would have to be roughly 10 kilometers in diameter, according to Dahm. ITAF reported earlier this month that Air Force infrastructure or energy projects originally planned to begin several years down the road could be initiated earlier than expected so that they could be paid forby a government stimulus plan as a way of creating millions of dollarsfor domestic jobs. The "national" solar-based power concept is to place"metropolitan-scale systems" -- or those that produce 25 gigawatts ofpower, more than that which is needed to power New York City -- intospace, Dahm said. These systems would need solar arrays that are 2.5 kilometers by 5 kilometers in area. "They're so large, people tend togiggle, but you have to remind yourself that you're getting down 25 gigawatts of power," he said.

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