To have unlimited solar power, we need to collect solar energy from where the sun never sets – outer space.
BE2C2 Report — Researchers from NASA and the Pentagon have come up with the brilliant idea of capturing the sun’s power from outside our atmosphere, in other words, directly from outer space. Supposedly it can meet the world’s total power requirement expected to double by 2100.
According to their research, sun energy can supposedly provide in an hour more than the total energy humans can consume in a year. Which means the sun is more than capable of providing our energy needs. These researchers say tapping into that almost infinite energy is a possibility, given time and technology development.
One of the most notable proponents of this unique idea is Paul Jaffe — spacecraft engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
During the pioneer Diplomacy, Development, and Defense (D3) Innovation Summit Pitch Challenge conducted by the Department of Defense last spring, Jaffe took home four out of seven awards for his space-based solar power plan.
According to his presentation, development of his plan will be completed by 2021 at the cost of $350 million. Ultimately, the result will be a $10 billion in-orbit power plant that’s capable of powering over 150,000 homes.
The cost may not be appealing at this time. But as the technology improves and becomes more efficient, it is expected to become more competitive. “And even if it doesn’t, people may not necessarily shy away from it. Especially now that the effects of global warming are clearly evident, more consumers may be willing to pay a higher price for electricity if the tradeoff will be saving our environment and the continued survival of our planet,” the Wall Street Pit wrote.
According to experts, fossil fuels are vanishing at a rapid rate – crude oil reserves are deteriorating at the massive rate of 4 billion tons a year – and new reserves are not only getting harder to find, but producing more is simply becoming extra-hazardous to our planet. The climate change summit last December created a not-to-exceed benchmark for carbon emission by each country. Majority of the nations last December at the Paris Summit, signed off on the dotted line. That means, these nations pledged to concentrate on alternate sources of energy rather than fossil going forward.
This is where renewable energy comes in. There’s geothermal power, hydroelectric power, solar power and wind power. Among the four, it’s solar power that holds the most promise, experts say.
(This is an animation describing John Mankin’s “sandwitch” concept, that was presented at the National Press Club in Washington DC in 2007 by the NSS, and is part of the recent NSSO Study. You can read more at the NSS; http://www.nss.org/news/releases/pr20… .)
The main problem with the sun though is that it doesn’t shine all the time on Earth. And that poses a challenge because we can only tap into its power when it’s out. However, by capturing the sun’s power outer space it can provide unlimited solar power, the researchers said. All we need to do is collect solar energy from it — the sun never sets there.
NASA and Pentagon mantra makes sense. But how do we go about harnessing sun energy in outer space?
By positioning solar panels in space instead of on the Earth’s surface, trapping of solar power will have no more limitations — there’s no night time to consider, not even clouds covering the sun. As an added bonus, solar energy can be trapped in its entirety — without dust, water vapor or the Earth’s ozone layer absorbing some of its power. And because absorption of energy is continuous, there won’t be any need to store it for later use, which also means none of it would be wasted as storing typically results in up to 50% energy loss.
There are those who oppose the idea because of the high cost it will entail.
Those who justify it say it’s unlimited clean global power supply vs. possible wars caused by an oil crisis and worldwide catastrophe resulting from accelerated global warming. Besides, the concept is reasonably doable because we already have the technology and even the functional pieces needed to get things off the ground.
Let’s hope that the technology will be as effective as hypothesized. And that it can be launched in time to still be of help in solving the world’s energy crisis, thus taking a quantum leap in worldwide efforts to reduce carbon emission, greenhouse effects.