Lori Zimmer

United States Navy Unveils Plan to Beam Solar Power from Space to Earth

by , 03/20/14

green design, eco design, sustainable design, United States Navy Research Laboratory, Dr. Paul Jaffe, solar energy from space

The United States Navy Research Laboratory has unveiled two modules they are testing to capture solar energy from space and divert its power to earth. The two designs would use reflectors to concentrate sunlight to a satellite that would project the power to a receiver on the earth’s surface. If the plans are approved, the components would be assembled in space by a team of robots.



green design, eco design, sustainable design, United States Navy Research Laboratory, Dr. Paul Jaffe, solar energy from space

The futuristic plans headed by Dr. Paul Jaffe comprise two different designs that could create enough solar energy to power a city or a military plant. The first is a sandwich module that keeps electrical components between one enormous square photovoltaic panel that faces the sun and a square base with an extending antenna that directs the powered collected toward the earth. The electronic system in the center transforms the collected solar energy into radio frequency that can be easily beamed to the receiver.

Related: 6 Space-based Solar Power Designs

Jaffe’s second model, which opens up the sandwich design, would be more effective. The zig-zag shaped module has more surface area that extends into a step design to collect more power from the sun, making it more energy efficient. The panels would receive more sunlight without overheating, making the design safer, as well as producing more energy to be directed by the antenna in radio waves. Although Jaffe has tested models of these designs in a space-like chamber, the actual designs would be a kilometer in diameter. The NRL is currently exploring launching Jaffe’s design, either in space or high in the stratosphere.

Via Daily Mail

Related: Japan Plans to Harvest Solar Power From Space by 2030

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3 Comments

  1. fcfcfc April 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Hi: Great. Just what we need. More non ionizing radiation (microwaves)reflected about in our atmosphere. What ever happened to K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) in engineering design.

    …..Bill

  2. crashlanding March 25, 2014 at 8:42 am

    @Sean, they’re not planning on focusing a beam of sunlight down into earth. They’re collecting energy from sunlight in space, converting it into radio (which is still a type of ‘light’, actually, just less energetic), and then using an antenna to transfer it to earth. Same way a radio antenna collects energy from radio waves emitted by stations.
    The difference is, the energy emitted by a radio station is intentionally kept low, and used to just transfer information.
    It would actually likely reduce global warming (albeit an insignificant amount) – that light energy is headed towards earth anyways, this would just capture it before it hits our atmosphere instead of waiting till it goes through our atmosphere. The net result is more sunlight converted to electricity, which means less sunlight converted to heat.
    re: this seems really expensive. Yeah pretty much. But if it works, and we have more efficient solar power, it might be worth it. An oil rig is a really expensive, complicated structure, too.

    I’d be more worried about how easily something like this would be disrupted by space debris.

  3. Sean Reynolds March 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    This sounds like a bad idea.
    1) this would net increase global warming
    2) this would fry aircraft in the beam
    3) this would fry birds in the beam
    4) this seems really expensive
    5) it seems like there have been enough bond movies on this topic to envision this being accidentally dangerous.

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