Harvesting Solar Power from Space?
In a new report, the viability of sending solar panels into space to collect a vast quantity of uninterrupted energy has been re-investigated. Although the idea has been around since the 1970’s, space solar power has always been viewed as prohibitively expensive. In the current energy climate down here on Earth with spiraling oil prices and a massive push toward green energy sources, sending massive solar arrays into geosynchronous orbit doesn’t seem like such a strange (or expensive) idea. There are many obstacles in the way of this plan, but the international community is becoming more interested, and whoever is first to set up an orbital array will have a flexible and unlimited energy resource.
It sounds like the perfect plan: build a vast array of solar panels in space. This avoids many of the practical problems we have when building them on Earth such as land availability, poor light conditions and night time, but sending a sunlight farm into space will be expensive to set up. In the 1970’s a plan was drawn up by NASA for the possibility of orbital sunlight “harvesting”, but it was deemed too expensive with a hefty price tag of at least $1 trillion.