Solar power from space


Solar energy could be a very valuable resource in the future. (Courtesy of Pixabay)

Ben Ragals

As concerns with global warming and other resource-based issues continue to rise, many scientists, engineers and politicians are working on finding new sources of alternative renewable energy.

Shira Brown, the president of the Green Club at Weber, talked about how advancing technology should be directed towards solving global warming: “I think in a time period where we can develop 3D printed cells we should be able to find alternative energy to coal or nuclear plants… If we as a nation want to secure the future for the next generations, the first step is developing a more secure and safe alternative to how we create/produce power.”

It is clearly very important to find a cleaner and efficient alternate source of power. One possible way to produce power could come from space. China is working on a solar energy “farm”, according to an article by Inverse. The solar farm would orbit the Earth, collecting solar energy via panels and sending it back down to stations on Earth via microwaves or lasers. Once the energy reaches these Earth stations, the power will be transferred to the power grid.

However, the idea of using lasers raises a safety concern. And while the microwaves could catch solar energy and radiation being bounced back from the atmosphere, the station also has to orbit very far away, making repairs difficult. China does not plan to finish the final station until 2050. However, according to Electrek, a prototype station is in the works in Chongqing, and smaller stations will be released into the atmosphere in the early 2020s. This could mean smaller improvements in the near future.

Despite some opposition to the method, it may be very beneficial. Brown had some insight on this: “I think any step in the right direction is beneficial. Especially when people become creative and look to space as compared to just normal Earth alternative options. Though cost and frugality is always at the back of people’s minds, it can be the thing that stops us from furthering our technology in creating a brighter and safer future for those generations to come.”

While there are many cons to this method, the stations could be an effective source of new renewable energy and could help cut down on greenhouse gases and emissions in order to slow or even prevent the negative effects of global warming. The pros out way the cons.