NASA still wants to produce solar energy directly from space
Last year, the experts concluded that global energy consumption will grow by almost 50% from 2012 to 2040. For several years, scientists from NASA and the Pentagon's dream to produce energy from the sun, avoiding all the shortcomings of more traditional methods of electricity production. And, it seems, they have to draw the appropriate solution.
Space solar power started slowly, but the technology can finally take off in the next few decades. Since its introduction among us, solar energy was a serious limitation as a renewable energy source: it depends on the sun's light. This limits the field of its successful application in favor of a more dry and sunny regions, such as California and Arizona, and not of St. Petersburg and London. Even on a cloudless day the atmosphere absorbs some of the energy radiated by the sun, trimming the efficiency of solar energy. And let's not forget that not terrestrial solar panels even in the best conditions, will see the sun part of the day - at night.
Therefore, about five years, scientists from NASA and the Pentagon conceptualize different can increase solar cell efficiency in the most radical way and are ready to offer a solution. There were proposals to bring solar panels outside the atmosphere, many of which required a spacecraft equipped with an array of mirrors that reflect sunlight into the energy conversion device. Solar energy can be sent back to Earth via a laser beam or a microwave emitter. There are also ways to modulate the energy of waves to protect birds or planes that can get on the path of the beam. The energy from these cosmic solar panels will not be limited to the clouds, atmosphere or our daily cycle. In addition, because solar energy will be absorbed continuously, there will be no sense to store energy for later use, but it is quite compelling article in energy costs.
Proponents of this energy strategy argue that we have all the necessary scientific data to design and deploy space solar panels, but its opponents, such as Elon Musk, argue that the initial cost will be too high. In 2012, Musk spoke very negatively against this idea.
From heaven to earth
As continue to appear evidence of climate change because of the people, energy production takes on new challenges to consider, in addition to dollars and rubles on the price tags. Effective renewable energy source with a small carbon footprint and virtually no waste looks attractive enough, so they are interested in many caring individuals, including Paul Yaffe, a space engineer of the Research Laboratory of the US Navy.
Last March, Jaffe presented his plan for the implementation of space solar energy at the summit of D3, which arranged a US Department of Defense. Of the 500 submissions it plan Jaffe took home four of the seven awards. Jaffe presented the plan and said that he could collect orbital demonstration power station, which can provide 150,000 homes from orbit, just 10 years and $ 10 billion. He added that these investments will pay off in the long term.
"Over time it becomes effective. Wind and solar power have demanded for decades to begin to compete with carbon alternatives. I see the same potential here, "Jaffe said in an interview. "In many things the future of solar energy in space is less dependent on scientists and engineers, and more - from the people who opt for what they want to pay."
Jaffe is not the only one who sees the prospect of this strategy. Japan and China are planning to send its own solar space station in the next 25-30 years. In the US, a private company Solaren raises money for the design and demonstration of its variants. And even signed a contract with the largest energy supplier PG & E.
None of these projects will not be implemented in the next ten years, maybe twenty. But as we approach the year 2040, such projects will attract more and more attention.