According to reports, China are said to be planning the world’s first solar power station in space. Researchers at the China Academy of Space Technology claim the technology is currently being tested with the aim of building the solar power station in space by 2050.
According to China Academy of Space Technology researcher Pang Zhihao, the solar power station is set to provide “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans” without interference from the atmosphere, cloud cover or night time.
The space agency is allegedly currently building a beta model of the power station at a test site in Chongqing and will continue testing over the next 10 years, with a view of beginning building the station by 2030. Reports say the space station could reliably supply energy 99% of the time, at six-times the efficiency of solar farms on Earth.
One big question is how the station would get up there in the first place, with the weight of China’s proposed plant around 1000 tonnes — more than double that of the International Space Station. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, China is exploring whether it can fabricate the majority of the station in space, using robots and 3D printing.
Another question is how the solar power energy would be transmitted back down to earth. China’s researchers are said to be investigating using either a microwave or laser beam, with a system on earth capturing the transmissions and converting into electrical energy.
Despite sounding futuristic, the concept of space-based solar power stations isn’t actually anything new. Both NASA and Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency have muted the idea in the past, with the latter especially making strides in pushing the technology. Watch this space…
Another futuristic space idea came last year from Orion Span, who plan to open the Aurora Station Space Hotel by 2022.