A Step Closer to Unlimited Power

The article is a bit old, now, but the breakthrough it reports on is a highly positive one. Perhaps that was why it didn’t get more coverage than it did. (Yes, I’m a bit cynical!)

Space.com reported back in June that, “Scientists beam solar power to Earth from space for 1st time ever.”

The article reports on the successful experiment. What baffles me is why this wasn’t jumped upon by everyone. Why wasn’t a huge fuss made of this? It is, after all, a critical step in the harvest of solar power from space, which is in itself a major development in the progress of humankind.

Harvesting solar power in space, instead of relying upon panels upon the roofs of individual residences, is a vastly superior and more efficient process. As in, exponentially better.

In space, the sun’s output isn’t masked by bad weather, clouds or other interference, including being on the wrong side of the planet every 12 hours. The sun is always “on” in space.

Collecting the energy was never a technological issue. We’ve had efficient solar panels for a very long time. Getting that energy down to the surface has just been solved. The only thing left to resolve (apart from administrative BS like distribution and billing) is the efficient storage of that power, once it’s on the surface, so that power isn’t interrupted once the globe revolves away from the sun and the collectors beaming the power downstairs.

But we already have batteries, and the technology surrounding batteries is getting better every year.

That leaves just politics to get in the way. Power companies wedded to their coal-powered and nuclear-powered generators will fight the change and use their billion-dollar profits to trip up the adoption of space solar collecting. Unless they can get in on it themselves in the very early stages. But that requires vision and the spending of profits.

Harvesting solar power in space would radically change our economy, our way of life. No more fossil-fuel generators to infuse carbon into the air. No more carbon taxes! (I don’t know about you, but I seethe every time I pay my gas bill. The carbon tax is more than the gas itself!). The sun is an essentially limitless supply of energy that could drive the entire planet, resolving all our energy issues forever, and making a huge difference in the amount of carbon we’re putting into the atmosphere, too.

And we’re now one step closer to that reality. That’s why we should make a big fuss about it.

11 thoughts on “A Step Closer to Unlimited Power”

  1. David V Houston

    Why wasn’t it widely reported? Because it’s not very significant.

    “Harvesting solar power in space, instead of relying upon panels upon the roofs of individual residences, is a vastly superior and more efficient process. As in, exponentially better.

    In space, the sun’s output isn’t masked by bad weather, clouds or other interference, including being on the wrong side of the planet every 12 hours. The sun is always “on” in space.”

    Collecting the energy was never a technological issue. We’ve had efficient solar panels for a very long time. Getting that energy down to the surface has just been solved. The only thing left to resolve (apart from administrative BS like distribution and billing) is the efficient storage of that power, once it’s on the surface, so that power isn’t interrupted once the globe revolves away from the sun and the collectors beaming the power downstairs.

    The actual problem of getting power to the earth was basically solved decades and decades ago.
    Gerard K O’Neill’s project of building massive L5 colonies to harvest lunar resources to build solar power sats had lots and lots of problems – but the transmission of the power was not one of them.

    See also Peter Glaser, who published in 1968.

    Sure it’s nice to see a lab-scale experiment actually demonstrate the process, but the process was never in doubt.

    The reports very carefully do NOT mention HOW MUCH power was transmitted/received, but ‘lighting up a pair of LEDs’ suggests it was only about a watt or so. Nothing more than a lab experiment.

    1. If the process was resolved decades ago, then what has stopped it from being adopted widely? I suspect, as I already asserted in the original post, that economics and politics is in the way.

      Thanks for the edification.

      Cam.

      1. The “process” was actively researched since 1980s, under the Star Wars program. Being able to send focused high energy beams from space to the surface is a weapon that we don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any hands that are right for it.

      2. All I have to say is WOW and better luck to our future generations in benefiting from this type of energy.

    2. David V Houston

      See also
      Sabine Hossenfelder’s video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZPrIE5ZMZA

      the Fraser Nash report she mentions
      https://www.fnc.co.uk/media/e15ing0q/frazer-nash-sbsp-executive-summary-final.pdf

      Financial Times video
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBlOb2z26Do

      So… TL;DR
      IF everything went to plan and there weren’t any cost overruns (surely never with cutting edge aerospace projects. 🙁 :);) ), and if you can amortize it over 100 years.
      you could get power cheaper than nuclear plants, but more expensive than current solar.

      That’s a LOT more viable costwise than I had expected, actually.

  2. You nailed it, Cameron: corporate, not human, interests will determine our turn away from fossil fuels. “Profit” is an invention that steals from the vast majority to feed the greed of a minority of humanity. Oh, well.

  3. Moving a lot of energy from here to there wirelessly is doable. If “there” has a receiving antenna and a connection to grid and storage, awesome. If “there” doesn’t have those, isn’t energy transfer vs. orbital weapon a matter of semantics?

    1. Quite possibly.

      But everything IS solved at this point. Yet adoption of solar power still remains in the hands of individuals and the private sector.

      Cam.

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