Clean Power

Published on September 2nd, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

24

$21 Billion Solar Power Station in Space — Planned by Japan

September 2nd, 2009 by  

Japan is planning to build a solar power station in space within the next 30 years. It is expected to cost $21 billion. How will they do it?

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Why do it?

Solar energy is said to be 10 times greater at the Earth’s edge and existing satellite systems already contain much of the technology needed to send this energy back to Earth. The Japanese government is expecting to be able to send power to 294,000 Tokyo homes by 2030. As fossil fuels are disappearing, this may be a renewable energy source of the future!

What will the solar power station look like?

The solar power station is supposed to be 4 square kilometers in size. It is to be a satellite covered with solar panels.

How will it send energy to Japan?

The solar panels on this power station would send the energy back to Japan via microwaves.

The leader of this project is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Research participants include 16 businesses (including “thin-film photovoltaic module producer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, its solar cell and satellite-making sister company Mitsubishi Electric Corp, and Tokyo-based IHI Corp, which produces space development-related equipment.“) They are researching how to complete this project by the 2030s. There are estimates that costs still need to be cut by 100 times the current estimates, but they think it is very possible.

Could solar panels orbiting the Earth be the next big source of renewable energy?

Is this safe?

Japan is very hopefull.

We’ll see.

via businessGreen.com

Image Credit: Lynn (Gracie’s mom) – I’m here & there via flickr under a Creative Commons license


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.



  • DS

    Interesting article (and I recognize it is from 2 yrs ago), but for some perspective, here is a little more information.

    Overall, the surface of Earth receives about 89,000 terawatts, while the worldwide average power consumption rate was 15 terawatts in 2008. We receive approximately 5,933 times more energy from the sun at Earth’s surface than we currently consume globally.
    (source : the sources cited at the bottom of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption)

    What would $21 billion worth of solar panel installations on the roofs of Japanese factories, buildings, and houses output ? I can’t imagine there would be need for space based power generation after that.

  • Cyril S.

    it would not work work

  • Cyril S.

    it would not work work

  • zuggernaut

    The primary concern regarding power-beaming concentrated microwaves from a space solar power satellite are the biohazards accompanying high-intensity microwaves, as explained in the book Sunstroke by David Kagan. I read Sunstroke and was impressed that David Kagan predicted that a space-based solar power station would be built and deployed by not only the US, but also by other nations, under the pretense of being a “purely alternative energy source to supply unlimited power to major cities”. Kagan spells out quite clearly that such space solar power stations employing high-intensity microwave beams could also be used as a devastating multi-pronged weapon: it can supply electricity to the military, be used to fry enemy ground troops, aircraft, ocean-going vessels, and also be used to disrupt enemy communications as well as destroy their agricultural capabilities. And the US EPA agrees.

  • zuggernaut

    The primary concern regarding power-beaming concentrated microwaves from a space solar power satellite are the biohazards accompanying high-intensity microwaves, as explained in the book Sunstroke by David Kagan. I read Sunstroke and was impressed that David Kagan predicted that a space-based solar power station would be built and deployed by not only the US, but also by other nations, under the pretense of being a “purely alternative energy source to supply unlimited power to major cities”. Kagan spells out quite clearly that such space solar power stations employing high-intensity microwave beams could also be used as a devastating multi-pronged weapon: it can supply electricity to the military, be used to fry enemy ground troops, aircraft, ocean-going vessels, and also be used to disrupt enemy communications as well as destroy their agricultural capabilities. And the US EPA agrees.

  • Beau

    ummmmm……. okay, giant energy gathering solar panel orbiting the planet and beaming it back to earth…… can anyone say giant death ray? LOL

  • Beau

    ummmmm……. okay, giant energy gathering solar panel orbiting the planet and beaming it back to earth…… can anyone say giant death ray? LOL

  • Energy could be obtained from renewable sources much cheaper on Earth. Just think of all the sunny deserts we have. Not to mention wind and tidal power. Why not concentrate instead on developing space habitats and prepare for exodus? We shall prepare for a possible (and probable) future cataclysm, such as being hit by an asteroid. We shall also move human expansion into space to preserve Mother Earth as a museum for future generations; just as old downtowns in Europe are preserved and new development occurs in satellite communities.

  • Energy could be obtained from renewable sources much cheaper on Earth. Just think of all the sunny deserts we have. Not to mention wind and tidal power. Why not concentrate instead on developing space habitats and prepare for exodus? We shall prepare for a possible (and probable) future cataclysm, such as being hit by an asteroid. We shall also move human expansion into space to preserve Mother Earth as a museum for future generations; just as old downtowns in Europe are preserved and new development occurs in satellite communities.

  • Cyril R.

    21 billion for 1 GWe is 21 dollars per Watt. If there are no cost overruns, and if that includes all costs!

    Space solar sure isn’t cheap. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

    Hopefully they can get the cost down a LOT in the future. They need a cheap way to put things in orbit.

  • Cyril R.

    21 billion for 1 GWe is 21 dollars per Watt. If there are no cost overruns, and if that includes all costs!

    Space solar sure isn’t cheap. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

    Hopefully they can get the cost down a LOT in the future. They need a cheap way to put things in orbit.

  • jay hanson

    I remember this technology in sim city 2000

    Ah yes, the Microwave power plants. Those were fun.

    Except when they misfired and caused total destruction… wait, that was funny too 😛

  • jay hanson

    I remember this technology in sim city 2000

    Ah yes, the Microwave power plants. Those were fun.

    Except when they misfired and caused total destruction… wait, that was funny too 😛

  • Aix

    Tiggles take you wise ass comments somewhere else. No Ben, like Charles said, a 2×2 satellite would be very small. I think a postage stamp would be an overstatement. It would be more like a very large star or two put together.

  • Aix

    Tiggles take you wise ass comments somewhere else. No Ben, like Charles said, a 2×2 satellite would be very small. I think a postage stamp would be an overstatement. It would be more like a very large star or two put together.

  • Charles Vismeg

    At the height of the orbit the 2x2km object won’t look even as big as a postage stamp. No worry about shadow. Besides, light curves aroung objects.

  • Charles Vismeg

    At the height of the orbit the 2x2km object won’t look even as big as a postage stamp. No worry about shadow. Besides, light curves aroung objects.

  • The $21 billion will be spent over the next 4 years on the technology itself, not the actual station or atleast that’s what I understood from other writeups. It’s definitely gonna cost more than $21 billion in total.

  • The $21 billion will be spent over the next 4 years on the technology itself, not the actual station or atleast that’s what I understood from other writeups. It’s definitely gonna cost more than $21 billion in total.

  • Tiggles

    “Forgive me if this is a dumb question. But will a 4 sq km solar array in space create a large shadow somewhere on earth? If so, will that be a problem?”

    Wow what an idiot.

  • Tiggles

    “Forgive me if this is a dumb question. But will a 4 sq km solar array in space create a large shadow somewhere on earth? If so, will that be a problem?”

    Wow what an idiot.

  • Ben

    Forgive me if this is a dumb question. But will a 4 sq km solar array in space create a large shadow somewhere on earth? If so, will that be a problem?

  • Ben

    Forgive me if this is a dumb question. But will a 4 sq km solar array in space create a large shadow somewhere on earth? If so, will that be a problem?

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