Sunday, June 28, 2009Japan Shooting For Space-Based Solar Power
TOKYO (Nikkei)--The government will by the end of this year start developing technologies designed to eventually beam electricity from solar panels in space down to the earth.
An artist's image of a compact satellite for use in an experiment to transmit power down to the earth. (Courtesy of JAXA)
A public solicitation for firms to participate in the endeavor will soon be made; the companies may be selected as early as next month. The government expects players in the electronics and heavy electric machinery industries to participate.
The hope is to commercialize orbital solar power by 2030. Such a system would have such advantages as generating electricity regardless of the weather on the ground.
The project will develop technologies to transmit power down to the earth. The idea is to convert solar electricity into microwaves, which would then be converted back into electricity at the surface.
The team will first attempt to transmit microwaves for a distance of around 10m; the hope is to extend this to 100m within three to five years.
The government plans to launch a small satellite in 2015 to conduct related experiments in space.
(The Nikkei June 28 edition)