Solar energy received by Earth is 10,000 times more than the total energy requirement of the planet. It is available in abundance and is free of cost.
But solar power on Earth is intermittent, so it becomes difficult to harness it now and then. A solar panel in space will be exposed to full sunlight almost all the time. Moreover, there will be no loss of solar power that comes due to the protective atmosphere and magnetosphere.
So, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena are planning to install Solar panels in space and beam solar power down to Earth via microwaves.
The goal of Caltech’s Space-based Space-based Solar Power Project’ Project (SSPP) is to deliver clean renewable energy anywhere on Earth unaffected by weather or time of the day.
Caltech has received $100 million in funding for its SSPP.
SSPP researcher Harry Atwater said, “This ambitious project is a transformative approach to large-scale solar energy harvesting for the Earth that overcomes this intermittency and the need for energy storage,”
Although the project has tremendous potential, there would be a lot of challenges also. Researchers are working on ways to collect energy and beam that energy to the Earth in a way that it doesn’t lose most of it on the way.