03 December 2009

Controversy flares over space-based power plan

From: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34239347/ns/technology_and_science-future_of_energy/
...Last week, California regulators proposed a plan to approve a 15-year contract with the American company Solaren Corp. to supplyspace-based solar power to utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) by 2016. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also teamed up with a private Japanese coalition to design a solar space station for launch by the 2030s.
Such projects encourage scientists who dream of harnessing the sun's power directly, without the interruption of cloudy skies and Earth's day-night cycle. Marty Hoffert, a physicist at New York University and one of the staunchest supporters of space solar power, suggests that today's technologies allow space solar power to provide energy as cheaply as the usual solar panel arrays on Earth....Hoffert has pushed for the laser beaming approach as newly effective cost-cutting measure, and even submitted a proposal with his son to ARPA-E, the U.S. Department of Energy's new agency.  "The cost to first power doesn't have to be in the hundreds of billions," Hoffert said. His proposal includes laser transmission tests on the ground in an NYU lab, and then a space experiment launched to the International Space Station.

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