For Sale: Solar Power from Space

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week approved a power purchase agreement that would allow Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to purchase 200 Megawatts of electricity produced by solar panels to be placed in orbit around the earth over 15 years.

The power produced by the solar panels would be transmitted wirelessly from space.

While we are still about 6-7 years away from construction beginning on this project, the news is very exciting. Here are some interesting facts about Space Solar Power (SSP, also known as Space-Based Solar Power, or SBSP):

  • The solar energy available in space is literally billions of times greater than we use today.
  • The lifetime of the sun is an estimated 4-5 billion years, making space solar power a truly long-term energy solution.
  • As Earth receives only one part in 2.3 billion of the Sun’s output, space solar power is by far the largest potential energy source available, dwarfing all others combined.
  • Solar energy is routinely used on nearly all spacecraft today. This technology on a larger scale, combined with already demonstrated wireless power transmission can supply nearly all the electrical needs of our planet.
  • Unlike terrestrial solar and wind power plants, space solar power is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in huge quantities. It works regardless of cloud cover, daylight, or wind speed.

Sources:
http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/19359
http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/