Tons of Mirrors, an energy company that focuses on making solar energy cheaper and accessible, plans to make sunlight a 24-hour phenomenon. The company CEO Ben Nowack is a 26-year-old technology innovator who previously worked with Space X. Nowack has plans of installing a special setup in space, incorporating large mirrors that could redirect sunlight to solar panels on Earth at night.
“Today, with the solar panels that are out there, it’s a $20 billion-a-year industry,” said Nowack as reported by Vice. “What I’m building is bigger than any of the markets they currently have. If this is the electric solution, and let’s say in 200 years this replaces fossil fuels, it’s a $17 trillion market.”
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The setup would be positioned on the International Space Station (ISS) to facilitate 24-hour access to solar energy. It would obit in space while reflecting sufficient sunlight to Earth to facilitate solar energy capture. The idea of orbital solar reflectors was first presented to the senate in 1977. Since then, many scientists have been toying around with the idea.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are currently working on large-scale satellite solar reflector technology that would enable large-scale solar farms to have access to sunlight at night. China has also announced plans to release artificial moons into space. The reflective objects are said to have sufficient light that could replace streetlights by the end of this year.
According to Nowack, his initial idea was to have an infinitely long vacuum tube containing sunlight-directed mirrors in space. However, he reviewed the idea due to its size and the resources it would require. With his current idea, a large wave of particles or light can be narrowed into a single beam.
While the idea is good, Noack has some challenges that the company is still trying to work around. He is currently trying to lower the cost, establishing a large area in space required for the setup and raising money.
“It’s an enormous national security risk if China has access to electricity for 10 or 100 times cheaper than the U.S. does,” he said, highlighting the geopolitical challenges of cheap clean power to move forward.
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