Science

Japan Harvesting Solar Energy From Space!

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.

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.

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