Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Mar 19

Japan Closer to Harvesting Solar Energy from Space

Posted in Energy Inventions | Future Technology | Solar Power

Since 2008, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has been working hard to develop technologies to transmit electricity wirelessly. The goal of the Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS), is to be able to transmit energy from orbiting solar panels by 2030. On March 12th, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully conducted a ground demonstration test of “wireless power transmission”, a technology that will serve as the basis for the SSPS.

mhi-electricity-transmitter In the test, 10 kilowatts of electricity was successfully transmitted via a microwave unit. Power reception was confirmed at a receiver located 500 meters away. LED lights on the receiver confirmed the transmission. This marks a new milestone in transmission distance and power load (enough to power a set of conventional kitchen appliances). The test also confirmed the success of the advanced control system technology that is used to direct the microwave beam so that it stays on target.

The new test results promise to lead to way to terrestrial applications like the SSPS, and will hopefully eliminate the need for traditional cable connections. Potentially, a solar battery in orbit (36,000 kilometers above earth) could generate power which would then be transmitted to earth via microwave/laser, without relying on cables. JAXA anticipates that this new technology could become a mainstay energy source that will simultaneously solve both environmental and energy issues here on Earth.

Concept Photos:


Watch the video:

Read the MHI Press Release
Photo Credits: Japan Space Agency, NASA

Could this be the start of a new space race? Leave your comments below…

  • Linda Roe

    This is the most scarey news yet. We will be fried alive!!

  • Andy Hadley

    On the day of an eclipse… this is scary, but also seems pointless. Until we have collected more of the significant energy already falling on the planet, why would it make sense to litter the skies with orbiting panels, that might sometimes shade, or sometimes burn ? And what is the efficiency of the wireless transmission compared to a wired connection ? It suggests that 10KW of power was transmitted, at what loss ?

    • Jorge Fernandez

      I thought the same thing, however I imagine not efficient. 10KW over 500m is not far in comparison to the distance from the surface of Earth to inner Earth orbit. What trouble me most about this are the implications of having microwaves through the atmosphere. What is a plane goes through. The people might get cooked

    • Joseph Herbert

      The only advantage I see — which didn’t occur to me until I saw the

      picture — is that a platform closer to the sun will absorb a more
      intense collection of energy… because the rays spread out / decrease
      in intensity (picture a circle, with radial angles traveling out from
      the center — it’s more diffuse the farther out they go).

      …. So the solar rays are more concentrated closer to the sun.

      That’s the only advantage I see.

      And, yes, all the other points are valid. It’s not clear to me what the
      cost-benefit is here, nor why it’s being considered in the first place
      (unless they think the cost-benefit is really that substantial).

      then, of course, there are potential safety-hazard scares, as others
      have mentioned below. (Maybe this wouldn’t be so much of an issue for
      humans, if it were a geosynchronous satellite. Still plenty of other
      unaddressed safety/environmental concerns though.)

  • Pieter Siegers

    As we are already warming the planet, why not add some energy from space directly? And add to the climate change problem, not with fossil fuels but with clean energy? Hm, looks like we human beings will never understand… big sigh here.
    It’s really simple. Say those 10KW is converted into heat to produce some products. How on Earth are we going to return that 10KW back to space?
    I think this project is potentially dangerous stuff for our planet (apart from taking into account any losses during transmission).

  • PlayStation4Life!

    it’s a cool concept but only in fiction. Realistically, this is just dumb af.

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