Japan Aims to Beam Solar Power from Space by 2025

Japan Aims to Beam Solar Power from Space by 2025

Japan Aims to Beam Solar Power from Space by 2025

­The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced a somewhat ambitious goal – to beam solar power from space by 2025.

The idea would involve generating electricity from solar panels at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers, whereby the energy is converted into microwaves and sent to ground-based receiving stations.

And it’s not entirely without precedent. In fact, Japan, has been leading the way in this area for decades.

Back in 2015, a JAXA team beamed 1.8 kilowatts of power (enough to power an electric kettle) 50 meters away to a wireless receiver.

That might not seem like a big deal, but at the time, it was huge news.

"This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device," said a spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

They added that “it could take decades before we see practical application of the technology - maybe in the 2040s or later.”

Well, we might be a decade and a half ahead of schedule.

Still, huge challenges definitely remain. Specifically, the cost factor.

As Nikkei Asia points out, generating around 1 gigawatt with space-based solar requires panels equivalent in area to a square that measures 2 km on each side. All for a price tag of about $7.1 billion.

That could prove tricky, but then again, with governments around the globe (and industry) pushing for net zero carbon emissions, the time has never been better to attempt something like this.