Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Space-Based Solar Power

The renewed interest in energy policy to which the oil price spike of 2003-2008 contributed so much has yet to vanish entirely-and this extends partially to space-based solar power. Indeed, The Space Review has run two articles on the subject in as many weeks-the first (April 27, 2009) by John Marburry, and the second (May 4, 2009) by Mike Snead (who also wrote an earlier piece relevant to the subject back in 2007, and posts regularly about the topic on his blog, Spacefaring America).

Are these just blips on the radar screen, or are we looking at a turning point for this concept? I'd like to think so-since there's no denying the abundance of energy which can be collected this way-but the logsitics remain problematic, given the costs of access, complicating the establishment of a really robust infrastructure large-scale energy production would demand.

In other words, I just don't see how they are going to be able to make this work.

Nonetheless, last month Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to buy 200 MW of electricity from the start-up Solaren-estimated to be enough to power a quarter of a million homes-from 2016 on. The details seem very sketchy, but whatever happens next, this will be something to watch.

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