Europe’s biggest space company is seeking partners to fly a demonstration solar power mission in orbit.
EADS Astrium says the satellite system would collect the Sun’s energy and transmit it to Earth via an infrared laser, to provide electricity.
Space solar power has been talked about for more than 30 years. However, there have always been question marks over its cost, efficiency and safety.
But Astrium believes the technology is close to proving its maturity.
“Today we are not at an operational stage; it’s just a test,” said chief executive officer Francois Auque. “In order to implement a solution, of course, we would need to find partnerships and to invest, to develop operational systems,” he told BBC News.
Those partnerships could comprise space agencies, the EU or national governments and even power companies, he said.
Space solar power is an attractive concept because it would be clean, inexhaustible, and available 24 hours a day.
The amount of energy falling on photovoltaic cells placed in orbit is considerably greater than the same solar panels positioned on the Earth’s surface. In space, the incidence of light is unaffected by clouds, dust or the filtering effects of atmospheric gases.
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