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Any discussion of alternative energy or emerging technology would seem incomplete without a mention of solar power. Whether the goal is to capture the thermal heat of the sun or to generate electricity from solar rays, solar power is an extremely intriguing prospect for those who would like to see fossil-fuels go away for good. But, solar power is not available at all times in all parts of the world, meaning that excess energy needs to be stored for use when the sun is not shining. But, what if the solar energy was captured before it even entered the earth's atmosphere? This is the idea that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Osaka University have been working on. The goal is to collect solar energy and focus it on a plate of sintered powder of metals like chromium and neodymium. The energy is then to be beamed down to earth in the form of a laser where it would be collected and used. As you might guess, this technology is a ways off yet, and the scientists don't expect to have anything to show until the year 2030. That should give you plenty of time to practice your Dr. Evil impressions.

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[Source: Engadget]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Forget it, guys. I tried it in SimCity 2000 many years ago. every few decades, the satellite would mis-aim, and instead of beaming power to the receiver, it would start massive fires that took upwards of four fire stations to quell!
      • 8 Years Ago
      What a braindead idea! First off, the transmission efficiency would almost certainly be terrible. Second, the cost would be literally astronomical. For the price of building and launching just one satellite with - at best - 1000m^2 solar panel surface area, you could probably plaster a good fraction of Japan will conventional terrestrial solar panels.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Forget Dr. Evil.

      Ernst Stavro Blofeldt in "Diamonds are Foreever"
      • 6 Years Ago
      What we really need is a high efficiency long distance transmission system. Then the solar power collected in Arizona can be combined with wind power in Wyoming and wave power in Florida. You get the idea.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "fossil-fuels" is a mis-nomer.
      Oil, et. al. doesn't come from dead dinosaurs and plant material. It is a byproduct of the heating / cooling process inside the Earth.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh, ehm. It not only JAXA, SSP idea is decades old.
      See here:
      http://spacesolarpower.wordpress.com/
      • 8 Years Ago
      vivek - If you were an Isaac Asimov fan, you would know that the way to avoid this is to give the robots that aim the laser a religion based on keeping the laser aimed properly. Then it won't drift no matter how bad a solar storm the station is passing through.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sure, rocket science is cool, but you would probably get a better return on investment by capturing some of the the sun that is there already:
      http://www.stirlingenergy.com/
      Besides, beaming in extra solar power to the planet may contribute to global warming or what?
      • 8 Years Ago
      No high in the sky energy generation discussion would be complete without a gander at the concept these guys have come up with. http://www.magenn.com/
      I was laughing out loud when I first saw it the other night but then I got thinking....maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all. It could happen a lot sooner than satellite laser beaming us solar power, I 'm sure.