China aims at solar power station in space
When drawing energy, it’s a good idea to get as close to the source as possible. With that in mind, China is working on developing a solar power station to orbit Earth at 36,000 kilometres. At that height, the solar power station would not have to contend with the atmosphere, meaning cloudy days wouldn’t interfere with energy collection. Night, another stumbling block for solar energy collection, also wouldn’t be an issue. Decreased sunshine during the winter would be a thing of the past as well.
In fact, Pang Zhihao of the China Academy of Space Technology said, the station would be able to supply energy 99 per cent of the time, generating six times the power of Earth-bound solar farms. A solar power station in space would be “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans,” Pang said.
Construction has begun in Chongqing, Science and Technology Daily reported. The Chinese plan to launch small stations between 2021 and 2025, with a Megawatt-level power station to be built by 2030 and a Gigawatt-level station by 2050. The systems would use a microwave or laser to send electricity to Earth after the solar energy was converted. A large power station could weigh as much as 1,000 tonnes, so Chinese scientists are examining whether 3D printing robots could be installed in space to build on the spot and save the effort of transporting the power stations from Earth.
China has been making a concerted effort to expand to space, landing a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon and planning to launch an artificial moon. It remains to be seen what the effects of sending microwave radiation from space to Earth would have on humans and the environment, and the potential harmful effects must be studied before any power station launch takes place.