Going closer to the sun for solar power
California utility PG&E and solar power company Solaren say they have inked a first-of-its-kind deal to produce renewable solar power from space satellites beginning in the year 2016.
PG&E, one of the largest electric utilities in the United Sates, says on its in-house blog, Next100, that it is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren, which it says can provide 200 megawatts of clean, renewable energy — enough to power some 140,000 California homes — over a 15 year period.
Solaren says it will generate the power using solar panels on Earth-orbiting satellites, transmit it back to Earth through a radio frequency to a recieving station in Fresno County, then convert it into electricity which would be fed into PG&E’s grid.
Though the project sounds exotic (read: expensive), PG&E says the benefit of solar energy from space is that — since the satellites are consideraby closer to the source with no clouds in the way — its 8 to 10 times greater than that on Earth and can be harnessed 24 hours a day, no matter the season back home.
Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak says on the blog that he is confident that his team, which has years of experience in the aerospace industry, can build the world’s first Space Solar Power station and deliver power to Californians from space by 2016.
What do you think? Is this something out of Star Wars, or is space the next frontier for solar power?
Photo credit: Reuters/Ho New