November 9, 2009
Japan Targets Solar Station In Space
Japan's space agency is serious when they say by 2030, they want to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth, using laser beams or microwaves.
Japan has been a long time leader in solar and other renewable energies. With few energy resources of its own, this year they set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.
But Japan's undaunted plan to date is the Space Solar Power System, in which arrays of photovoltaic dishes several square miles in size would hover in geostationary orbit outside the Earth's atmosphere.
Researchers at Heavy Industries say, "Since solar power is a clean and inexhaustible energy source, we believe that this system will be able to help solve the problems of energy shortage and global warming. "The sun's rays abound in space."
The solar cells would capture the solar energy, which is at least five times stronger in space than on Earth, and beam it down to the ground through clusters of lasers or microwaves.
Gigantic parabolic antennae located at sea or dam reservoirs will collect the energy from the solar cells.
The researchers are looking at a one gigawatt system, that would produce electricity at eight cents per kilowatt/hour which is six times cheaper than its current cost.
Transporting the components to space however is the challenge, but Japan has been working on the project since 1998 with over 130 researchers.
The project has outlined several steps that would need to be done before a full-blown launch in 2030.
According to a 2004 study by JAXA, the words 'laser' and 'microwave' caused the most concern among the 1,000 people questioned.
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