China tests technology that could harness solar power from space
Scientists in China have successfully tested a technology that might aid in the generation of electricity from solar power in space. The prototype is now being built at Xidian University in Shaanxi Province. According to Bloomberg, the concept has been tested to capture sunlight in orbit and transform it into microwave beams that can be converted into electricity by receiving stations on the ground.
Why does this story matter?
- China has been planning to launch a solar power plant into space in 2028 to obtain unlimited power.
- According to the research magazine Chinese Space Science and Technology, the country will launch a satellite in 2028 to test wireless power transmission technology from space to the ground.
- The device would be set up at an altitude of 400 kilometers.
System can be expanded to transmit solar power from space
According to reports, the device can presently deliver electricity across 55 meters through the air. However, the researchers hope that the system can be expanded to deliver power from orbiting solar panels to Earth. The scientific team behind it recently completed tests in front of a panel of independent specialists, who confirmed its success on June 5, according to a statement from the institution.
Technology likely to solve major problem of clean energy
Scientists believe that the project to transmit solar energy from space will solve the biggest problem of clean energy technology—the inability to function in darkness. They plan to put the panels in orbit where they can avoid Earth's shadow. Meanwhile, reports claimed that specific components of the technology were successfully tested before but the Chinese researchers are the first to test a full-system model.
More countries working toward solar-from-space technology
According to Bloomberg, China isn't the only country interested in solar-from-space technology. Following a $100 million grant in 2013, researchers at the California Institute of Technology initiated a space solar mission. Researchers in India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France are all looking at ways to harness solar energy from space. According to the Xidian University, Japan is highly advanced in this subject.