China thinking about solar power plants in space – report
Xi’an. Author: Muhammad Taslim Razin. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.
March 30 (SeeNews) – A bunch of scientists from China are currently considering the pros and cons of building a solar power station some 36,000 kilometres (22,369 miles) above Earth, Xinhua News Agency said Monday.
The idea may become reality as the world’s number-one carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter is seeking to reduce its smog and greenhouse gas emissions. A space-based solar power station is expected to generate roughly ten times more electricity compared to photovoltaic (PV) panels on the ground, Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) member, Duan Baoyan, was cited as saying.
The concept involves launching a super spacecraft, equipped with bigger-than-usual solar modules, on a geosynchronous orbit. The output would be transmitted by way of microwaves or laser beams to reach the ground. This could become possible only when the efficiency of this wireless power transmission technology climbs to around 50%, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the International Academy of Astronautics member, Wang Xiji, has said.
According to Xinhua’s report today, another challenge to developing a commercially-viable space power station may be its weight, estimated at more than 10,000 tonnes. To solve the problem, China will have to come up with a cheap heavy-lift launch vehicle, as well as very thin and light solar panels.
Actually, China is not the only one to think about producing electricity in space. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (TYO:7011) earlier this month successfully performed a ground demonstration test of long-distance wireless transmission of 10 kW power. It wants to use that technology in its space solar power systems (SSPS). The US has also carried out studies in connection to space solar power technology over the past few years.