Japanese space agency paves the way for orbital solar farms

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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.

[Source – Phys.Org, Engadget. Image – “Giant prominence on the sun erupted” by NASA/SDO/AIA/Goddard Space Flight Center – via Wikimedia Commons.]

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.


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