As the world moves increasingly further away from the use of harmful fossil fuels, we’re always looking for better ways to power the planet. Of course, solar energy has always been an obvious choice because energy from the sun is free. Provided we have the technology to support it.
In the pursuit of more sustainable power systems, the European Space Agency (ESA) is now considering if solar energy could be generated in space and beamed to homes and businesses around the globe. Introducing the Solaris Plan.
What is the new research program?
At this stage, the ESA is reasonably tight-lipped on the new Solaris project. We’re certainly not at the point of sending solar-generating satellites into orbit, but the ESA is committed to a three-year research program to discover if it is possible.
The idea of beaming energy from space back to earth has been around for decades, but until now it’s always been considered too expensive and complicated. Hence the ESA’s commitment to further researching and understanding whether it could really be possible and viable.
In September, researchers successfully transmitted 2KW of solar energy wirelessly over 30 metres, and this has sparked further interest in what could occur from space. Naturally, if solar energy was collected in space, it couldn’t be transmitted with wires, the way we do it on Earth. So, transmitting via microwave beams is considered the most viable option.
When will this technology be available?
At this stage, it’s a bit early to say, because the Solaris project is merely focused on researching whether or not this type of process is even possible. In simple terms, the idea would be to have giant satellites in orbit, equipped with solar panels. It’s estimated the satellites would need to be around 1.7kms long, but the beauty of this type of solar power generation is there are no clouds in space to compromise the sun’s rays.
Energy would be sent via microwave beams to receivers on Earth, where the energy would transfer to the main grid. While it’s too early to tell, researchers are confident that there are no significant technical issues that would prevent energy from being collected and transmitted safely in this manner.
Want to make the switch to solar?
Here at Ahles Solar, we’re not quite at the point of sending satellites into orbit. But we’re extremely experienced in providing quality solar systems to homes and businesses in Queensland. Contact us today for an obligation-free quote.