“Space, the final frontier…” are the words used in the famous TV show Star Trek. All you have to do is go outside and look up toward the stars and there it is: space.
Right now, we all tend to think of things on our planet. After all, space travel is not available to the majority of people on Earth. Only a select few have had the honor to venture “up there.”
However, what if space, the final frontier, became used for something more than just a research space station and some satellites? What if space could be utilized for, of all things, harnessing solar energy to supply electricity to people on Earth?
Think about it this way: here on the planet we’re living on, we deal with sunrises and sunsets daily. Solar panels exist in places where it gets dark, right? But, what if solar panels were placed in space where the sun never sets? Interesting idea, right?
This concept of putting solar panels in space to collect the sun’s energy to then send solar power to people on Earth could very well become “the next big thing.” As a concept, for a long time it was just too expensive to make it work. But over the years, teams of scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs have used their collective brainpower to come up with ways to make it economically viable.
How would the concept actually work? Modules would be launched into space where they’d end up in geosynchronous orbit. Mirrors, solar panels, and converters turning sunlight into electricity would work together to then beam microwaves to receivers on the ground (of our planet) where they’d be re-converted back into electricity and utilized by people on Earth.
How much would a solar power plant in space cost? All together, it would probably cost $5 billion dollars. Could this become a reality in the coming decades? Yes, it could. We shall see…