Solar satellites – good green energy source?
The major criticisms against solar power facilities, such as wind farms, are unreliability and inefficiency. Solar power depends on some environmental factors that can’t be controlled by humans so that’s the main reason potential investors are bit anxious. Not only money makes a problem but investments need to be followed by large areas with high and effective sunlight during the day.
When we are looking back to the past, around 50 years ago, group of scientists gave a proposition of solar powered satellites (SPS). Such satellites would have almost perfect and most wanted conditions if we compare it to the earth’s facilities because those satellites would be able to gather energy 24 hours a day and of course there is a larger amount of solar energy in Earth’s orbit than on Earth’s surface (144% of maximum solar energy on surface). One more, big advantage for SPS would be a satellite’s mobility and ability to transfer energy to areas of higher necessity.
Now is the question do we have enough will and money to build such state of the art power plant and do humanity has knowledge to do it?
The last projections, from 1980s, put the cost of launching an SPS at $5 billion, or around 8-10 cents/ kWh. Nuclear power plants for example cost a minimum of $3 billion to $6 billion, not including cost overruns, which can make a plant cost as much as $15 billion.
It is questionable how long SPS would survive in orbit due to threat from solar winds and space radiation. As for adding to the ever-expanding satellite graveyard in Earth’s orbit, most solutions to satellite pollution remain theoretical.
One of the major shortfalls in the design of SPSs is simply in getting the power from point A to point B. This remains the most controversial aspect of SPSs: the use of microwaves to transmit power from high orbit to the ground.
Critics often cite the dangers of microwave radiation to humans and wildlife, however, the strength of the radiation from these beams would be equal to the leakage from a standard microwave oven, which is only slightly more than a mobile phone.
For the sake of the future, expediency must take a back seat to longevity and longevity may just be found in outer space.
- Solar energy collecting as an alternative energy source
- Two sides of renewable energy
- Private rockets take off
- Alternative energy use
- Another solar project – CSP