If you’ve ever imagined solar farms that orbit the Earth, gathering energy from the sun all year long with no night-time or cloud cover to interrupt them, you’re not alone.
Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, has had the same idea, but they’ve also been actively developing technology that could one day make that a real possibility.
Engadget reports that JAXA recently demonstrated a major breakthrough in wireless power transmission – a key component to the dream of orbital solar farms – by beaming 1 800w of energy over 50 metres away to a small receiver.
That may only be enough to power a small kettle, but it’s a start. The important bit here is not so much the ability to wirelessly transmit power as it is the accuracy with which it can be beamed.
The very real implications of this technology, when properly scaled up and deployed, is being able to discard dangerous and environmentally-harmful forms of electricity generation thanks to thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth, collecting sunlight and beaming it to the ground-based grid.
Just imagine the good that would do the planet.
The next step in the process, says Engadget, is to scale the technology up for use in “tomorrow’s orbital solar farms”. A JAXA spokesperson who spoke to Phys.Org where the story originated, cautioned that the practical application of the technology is still decades away, and that we may only see it in the 2040s or so.