Doug Messier June 17, 2009, 12:22 pmby
PowerSat: Space Solar Flies Closer to Earth
Solar from space: It may sound like a bad sci-fi movie, but a growing number of companies think it could solve the world’s energy crisis. Among them is Everett, Wash.-based PowerSat Corp., which said today it’s filed a provisional patent for two technologies it claims could help make the transmission of solar power from space more cost-effective.
CEO William Maness also told us that the 8-year-old company has received commitments for $3-$5 million in angel funding, which it’s using to develop wireless power demonstrations on Earth, and is currently in negotiations for a first venture round in the single-digit millions.
The PowerSat news comes after Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Solaren, another space solar company, in April signed a deal to provide power to northern California utility PG&E. And Swiss startup Space Energy recently said it’s working to launch a prototype satellite into space in 2-3 years.
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PowerSat Corporation (www.powersat.com), a pioneer in safe and reliable energy generation from space, today announced the filing of U.S. Provisional Patent No. 61/177,565 or “SPACE-BASED POWER SYSTEMS AND METHODS.” The patent includes two technologies, BrightStar and Solar Powered Orbital Transfer (SPOT), which enable the reduction of launch and operation costs by roughly $1 billion for a 2,500 megawatt (MW) power station.
“This patent filing is a watershed moment not only for PowerSat but for a renewables industry that, until now, could neither compete economically nor generate power at the base load scale of oil or coal,” said PowerSat CEO William Maness. “Today, the convergence of technology and energy demand, combined with the political will to wean us off of fossil fuels, enables space solar power (SSP) to fill a widening clean energy supply gap.”
SSP is a clean, viable solution to our world’s growing energy problems. Not limited by weather or geography, SSP solves the intermittency problems of earth-based renewables by providing a reliable and flexible energy source that is available 24/7. The underlying technology components are proven and systems will be deployable within a decade. Solar energy is captured via solar power satellites (known as powersats) and transmitted wirelessly to receiving stations at various points around the globe. Thousands of megawatts can be harnessed and shifted between receiving stations thousands of miles from each other—all in a matter of seconds.
PowerSat Corporation’s first patented technology, BrightStar, allows individual powersats to form a wireless power transmission beam without being physically connected to each other. This “electronic coupling,” conceptually similar to cloud computing, effectively eliminates the need to handle large (gigawatt) levels of power in a single spacecraft. Because of BrightStar, one transmission beam may now come from hundreds of smaller powersats. Another advantage of Brightstar is increased reliability. If any of the individual component satellites fail they can be easily replaced without significantly affecting the performance of the system, thus establishing much greater reliability.
The other technology being patented by PowerSat, Solar Power Orbital Transfer (SPOT) propels a spacecraft to an optimal, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) using electronic thrusters that are powered by the same solar array that is eventually used for wireless power transmission. Until now, all satellites have had to use chemical propulsion or a chemically fueled “space tug” to move from Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is 300-1,000 miles in altitude to GEO, which is 22,236 miles in altitude.
SPOT technology also decreases the weight of a powersat by 67%, dramatically reducing launch costs, and enabling PowerSat modules to fly on rockets to LEO, deploy their solar powered electronic thrusters and then fly themselves out to GEO. GEO, the orbit for most communications satellites, is optimal because it allows a powersat to harvest the sun’s energy continuously.About PowerSat
PowerSat Corporation is a pioneer in generating safe, clean, reliable energy from space based in Everett, Washington. Solar energy is captured via satellites (known as powersats) and transmitted wirelessly to receiving stations at various points around the globe. Thousands of megawatts can be harnessed and shifted between receiving stations thousands of miles from each other—all in a matter of seconds. At a cost comparable to a large hydropower project, PowerSat seeks to leverage gigawatts of untapped solar energy and is motivated by a vision of legitimate energy independence and a truly clean energy portfolio. PowerSat Corporation is partnered with PowerSat Limited in London, and is a subsidiary of PowerSat International which is based in Gibraltar. For more information please visit www.powersat.com.