Tomorrow’s solar technology will soar in space

The following guest post is written by Andrei Mihai who runs the web site ZMEscience.Com. Established in 2007, ZME Science keeps readers informed and gets them involved in the processes that define our planet.

solar-satelliteSolar energy has developed significantly since the 1970s, and, as the years pass, scientists understand more and more about the benefits this kind of technology brings into our life, be it used for driving your electric car, heating or electricity; but now it’s time to take things to the next level, it’s time to take it to the sky — literally.

This idea might seem taken from a sci-fi novel, but it’s not. It’s much closer than you think. In 2009, California allowed a few companies to start working on a solar-based power plant which will be sent into outer space where it will harness energy which will be sent back to Earth.

Inflatable mirrors
They plan to deploy a flee-floating inflatable mirror one kilometer in diameter no later than 2016 — less than five years from now!

After sunlight is collected by this mirror, it will concentrate it onto another, smaller mirror, which will focus the rays on photovoltaic modules and send the energy back to Earth.

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If you think this is crazy, get a load of this: the Japanese and European Union also have similar plans, no later than 15 years from now.

There are many reasons why this technology will revolutionize the way we look at solar energy, and renewable energy in general.

24 hours of sun
First, it would have a much, much higher collection rate, due to the fact that the sun’s rays won’t get filtered out by the atmosphere. We would also have access to solar energy 24 hours per day, as opposed to the maximum 10 to 12 hours we get on earth. Finally, atmospheric factors would be almost negligible.

Another interesting advantage is that if a viable way of transmitting energy is developed, it could be developed anywhere on Earth, wherever the need is greater, and it could be used for electricity, water heating, solar air heating, and, of course, powering electric cars.

All in all, tomorrow’s technology is much closer than we think.

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