Space-based Solar Power: In the future We’ll have satellites that beam energy back to Earth

NASA's Sun Tower Concept
NASA’s Sun Tower Concept

Solar energy has often been regarded as one of the permanent and clean solutions to the ever increasingly demand for energy in the Industrialized world that we have inherited. This idea becomes geo-awesome when they visualize sending satellites to outer space that will enable tapping solar power and beaming it down to Earth! “Star Trek” inspired engineers, aren’t they?!

Although this idea has been around for a while now, the grandiose plan was quickly dismissed citing lack of technology and more importantly economic feasibility. Now, one of the Space pioneers and Former President of India, Dr. Kalam has unveiled an ambitious plan for an internationally developed Space Solar Power (SSP) System

A long-time champion of space-based solar power, Kalam says first steps will include the establishment of a “world space knowledge platform” under which specialists from the U.S., India and other spacefaring nations will join forces to develop a “societal” SSP mission. “This World Space Knowledge Platform, which is to be an International Virtual Laboratory, will take the form of a coalition of leading academic institutions in space and energy science and technology, [with] one or two in each of the partner nations. Guided and coordinated by the World Space Knowledge Platform’s International Advisory Committee, they would be directed toward bringing out an International Feasibility Study for SSP,” says Kalam. Source: AviationWeek (read more about the plan at Aviation week).

In the past, NASA, JAXA and other space agencies around the globe have proposed several ideas that never saw the light of the day. To overcome these hurdles, Dr. Kalam is proposing an international venture similar to the lines of the International Space Station.

Here’s a video about space solar system by the Japanese Space Agency – JAXA

Satellites and Space stations being designed and built just for the sake of harnessing the solar energy may not be a geomatics dream but surely it is time for us geomatics engineers to start thinking about “Universal Geomatics” 😉 Remote sensing has been used in recent years to identify locations for placing wind turbines and for tapping tidal energy, now its time for us to start thinking of “where to place our Solar Energy Satellites”! Space is the next frontier!

I am one of those passionate "Geo-geeks" and "Geo-people" who is just too excited about everything Geo and Management. Location information and spatial technologies are just too big to take a back seat and watch them revolutionize the world. Always curious and looking for ways to innovate, I guess that it comes naturally by the gene pool I inherited from an engineer Mom and a researcher Dad.