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China to Build a Gigawatt Power Station in Space


Dr Jody Muelaner posted on June 28, 2019 |

Space-based solar power technically has the potential to provide near limitless renewable energy and to direct it almost instantly to where it is needed at any given time. The space-based solar concept involves power being generated by an orbiting solar power station. This could use either photovoltaic panels or a concentrated solar plant that focuses the sun onto a boiler to drive a steam turbine. The power would then be beamed to receiving stations on earth using microwaves or laser beams. The receiving stations would be connected to local power distribution grids. A network of satellites could beam energy anywhere on Earth, directing power where it is needed.


The problem is that the cost of building space-based solar power stations has been estimated to be 1,000s of times more than the cost of current earth-based renewable power installations. The main reason for the high cost is that a commercial power station weights 1,000s of tons. It either has to be launched into orbit or the materials have to be mined in space, with the materials processing and all manufacturing carried out in orbit. Until recently, this has all looked ridiculously expensive compared to just building a solar array on the land. However, with companies like SpaceX rapidly bringing down launch costs and developments in lightweight photovoltaics, space-based solar is starting to look more feasible.


The first technical paper describing how we might achieve space-based solar power was published by Peter Glaser in 1968. Feasibility studies were then carried out by NASA in the 1970s, with a number of technical s setting out what could be achieved. Both photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants were considered, as well as microwave or laser power transmission. The most ambitious proposals involved capturing an asteroid near Earth into Earth’s orbit and mining it to create a massive solar power station. One such asteroid could provide many times more electrical power than all the power stations on Earth.


NASA illustration from 1977 showing asteroid mining on an Earth-approaching asteroid. (Image courtesy of NASA.)


Current Major Players
Japan passed its Basic Space Law in 2008, which makes achieving space-based solar power a national goal. Initially, small demonstration satellites will be launched and then a commercial 1-gigawatt station by 2030. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing a number of solar-collecting satellite designs, all intended to be placed in geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 36,000km. A satellite with a fixed photovoltaic panel would not always be pointing at the sun. JAXA is therefore investigating a concept with multiple mirror satellites focusing sunlight from different directions onto a central photovoltaic satellite. It intends to use a pilot signal from the Earth station to allow the satellite to aim as the receiving station. In 2015, JAXA made an initial demonstration of its microwave transmission technology, sending 1.8 kilowatts over a distance of 55m.


A number of different groups are working on space-based solar in the U.S. The U.S. Naval Research Lab (NRL) is researching modular solar and transmitter units for space deployment but have no plans for a full-scale demonstration. Caltech is also developing an ultralight module able to collect solar power and wirelessly transmit it. This is currently less than 1kg/m2 and incorporates beam steering. Solaren is a California-based startup that plans to launch a 200 megawatt space based power station in the mid-2020s.


China’s Roadmap to Commercial Space Based Solar


Finally, a gigawatt commercial space based solar power station would be launched by 2050, supplying power to earth and beaming it to spacecraft for deep-space exploration.


China to build space-based solar power station by 2035
by Staff WritersXiamen, China (XNA) Dec 03, 2019

stock illustration only
China plans to accomplish a 200-tonne megawatt-level space-based solar power station by 2035, according to the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).
The space-based solar power station would capture the sun''''s energy that never makes it to the planet, said Wang Li, a CAST research fellow with the program, when attending the sixth China-Russia Engineering Forum held last week in Xiamen, southeast China''''s Fujian Province.
The energy is converted to microwaves or lasers and then beamed wirelessly back to the Earth''''s surface for human consumption, Wang said.


"We hope to strengthen international cooperation and make scientific and technological breakthroughs so that humankind can achieve the dream of limitless clean energy at an early date," Wang said.

王說:“我們希望通過加強國際合作,實現科技突破,讓人類早日使用到永不枯竭的清潔能源?!?br />
Compared with traditional fossil energy, which has been increasingly exhausted and is responsible for severe environmental issues, space-based solar power is more efficient and sustainable, providing a reliable power supply solution for satellites and disaster-hit areas or isolated areas on the Earth, Wang said.


Researches in this field will spur the country''''s space science and innovation in emerging industries like commercial space transportations, Wang said.


"The power would then be beamed to receiving stations on earth using microwaves or laser beams."
One micro meteor impact and the beam shifts...

然后,能量將通過微波或激光束發送到地球上的接收站?!?br /> 不過一旦受到一顆很小的流星撞擊,光束傳輸方向就會發生改變……