US Navy Explores Beaming Solar Power From Space
A major complaint about renewable energy sources, including solar power, is that they don’t generate energy all the time. At night or during cloudy weather, solar arrays don’t produce electricity. But it’s never nighttime or cloudy in space, and the U.S. military is taking steps toward creating a solar array larger than the International Space Station to orbit the Earth.
The Naval Research Laboratory has built a compact solar module capable of capturing and transmitting solar power from space. One side of the tile-shaped satellite features a photovoltaic panel. Inside the tile are the electronics that convert the resulting direct current to a radio frequency for transmission, and the other side supports an antenna to beam the power to Earth.
The panels performed well when tested under space-like conditions.
But they are just the building blocks of a much larger plan. Enough panels to stretch 9 football fields would be launched into space and assembled and attached by robots. Supported by a module to collect and reflect sunlight, the array would convert direct current into a radio frequency and send it to massive receivers on the ground.