Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Solar Energy. Solaren

A new Californian startup Solaren has commited to deliver 200 MW power from the Space down to the Earth by 2016,

In the interview CEO of Solaren Gary Spirnak revealed :

This will be the world's first SSP plant. While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology. For over 45 years, satellites have collected solar energy in earth orbit via solar cells, and converted it to radio frequency (RF) energy for transmissions to earth receive stations. This is the same energy conversion process Solaren uses for its SSP plant.

Interestingly enough that the Solaren website remains very scarce on the information about the company.
Exept for the flashing logo and contact email address there is nothing to see. I would think this page belongs to geocities free websites rather than leading to the brightest rocket science enterpreneurs.

Space Based Space Solar energy concept isn't exactly very new.
First originated as an idea in 1968 and later patented by Dr. Peter Glaser, Space‐Based Solar Power captures sunlight on orbit where it is constant and stronger than on Earth, and converts it into coherent radiation that is beamed down to a receiver on Earth. The studies remained classified for most of 20-th century,though in 2007 a public group Space Frontier Foundation was established with the presence on the web.
According to the website, Space Frontier Foundation submitted a white paper on Space-Based Solar Power to the Obama transition team in the December of 2008 even before Obama's presidential inauguration.


Although bussiness commitment to PG&E sounds serious the techical challenges to achieve this goal are more substantial than those in building International Space Station. And let me recall that just a month ago we were witnessing an embarassing episode during the test of space station urine recycler. Lead spacewalk officer Glenda Laws-Brown told after the incident :
"As you know, when you get to the International Space Station there is no up and down. And my guess is they thought they had it in the right configuration, but because up is down and down is up, it was actually 180 degrees out from where it should have have been"
The mundane task was just loosening six bolts holding a set of batteries in place whereas assembling Solaren's Solar Plane should be a task much bigger than only 6 bolts.

Whether Solaren will be more successfull than NASA or they will become the target of Google's takeover towards alleged Moon-based internet station in 2016 only time will tell.


Harrison said...

I read about this today. Another waste of money.

MechApe said...


I wouldn't dismiss this project right away, eventually we need to find our ways to outer space.
If you are interested there is an in depth blog post covering Solaren venture, it is mildly pessimistic, so to say

Harrison said...

I'm not dismissing it as long as private investors will cover the cost. The space part I am cool with, the solar power from space part I'm not.

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