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How on Earth Can We Harvest Solar Power from Space?

Scientists are reinvestigating the possibility of sending solar panels into space, a method previously considered cost-prohibitive. Sending solar panels into space as a source of renewable energy has many advantages over building them on the ground. Outside of the atmosphere, the efficacy of the panels is not subject to interruption by weather or nightfall. The amount of energy available from the sun from the earth’s orbit is greater than the amount of energy available from all known fossil fuel resources on earth. Furthermore, as the cost of fossil fuels can only increase and a series of global natural disasters continuously reminds us of the dangers of climate change, solar farming may actually be one of the most practical and economical solutions to the energy crisis.

NASA considered a plan to build a solar farm in the 1970s, but the projected cost of the project was over one trillion dollars. Since the cost of space travel has been reduced, it is time to reconsider the possibility of using solar farms in space as a source of renewable energy. The push for large-scale solar energy is appearing in China and India as their population growth yields ever-increasing energy needs. Japan is investing millions into a prototype to be launched in the near future. Whichever nation manages to tap the major energy resource first will have many economic and practical advantages as the world is forced to turn to alternate energy sources.

In theory, the solar farms will work by launching specialized satellites into space which absorb light energy in orbit and then electromagnetically transmit it to receivers on the ground. This energy can then be distributed on a national grid which will have access to an uninterrupted supply. Besides the economic benefits, the advantages of solar power will be the flexibility of the system. It will not run out of fuel in the foreseeable future and will not be interrupted by global disasters. In fact, the system may be able to send energy to areas that need it most, such as regions where a natural disaster has occurred and the energy source already in place has failed, or in a war zone cut off from supplies.

In a best case scenario, the earliest we could expect to tap this powerful energy source would be 2020. We have yet to see how soon this technology will actually materialize and what nation will come out ahead in this all-new space race. With a project so large, even an international collaboration is a possibility.

Author Bio

Cathy is a solar power advocate promoting the benefits of solar power use in the Sydney Australia area. For affordable solar panel quotes, she recommends visiting www.solarmarket.com.au.


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