Happily, someone is indeed getting serious about climate change: the pity is though that it’s not our Government, despite their plans to spend some £100 billion on putting a windmill on top of every bump in the landscape. It’s actually two private companies:
The initial plan is for the firm Solaren Corp to provide some 200MW of electricity. Solaren, which is based in Manhattan Beach, California, says it will launch a satellite with an array of solar panels around 22,000 miles above the earth’s equator using existing rocket technology, and then convert the power generated into radio-frequency transmissions. The radio waves would be beamed back down to antennae in Fresno, California and then converted into electricity and fed into the regular power grid, PG&E said.
All that PG&E has agreed to do is to buy the electricity if they can indeed manage to produce and deliver it.
There are no technical reasons why it cannot work, only cost ones. In fact, it’s a cost one. The price of getting to orbit. Bring that cost down and such space based solar power systems would be financially as well as technically feasible.
Perhaps we should be agitating for the following modest proposal? The Government is already saying that there will be pots and oodles of money spent on various renewable energy generation projects. Why not simply agree that a pot or an oodle be made available to anyone who can deliver such space based solar power to the UK?
Think of it along the lines of the Ansari X-Prize. No money up front, no advance subsidy or “investment” from the State. Just an agreement that any power delivered from such a source will indeed be purchased under the same highly favourable terms as power derived from other renewable technologies. That would spark something of a technological race wouldn’t it?
Think on it: it’s already agreed that our taxes will be used to subsidise windmills, dams and the like. Why not use that, at no nett extra cost, to try and solve climate change once and for all by encouraging the exploitation of a near inexhaustible (I’m not sure that anyone’s quite thinking ahead 4 billion years to hte dimming of the Sun as yet) source of energy?