• Sep 12th 2008 at 2:06PM
  • 16
Although one of the oft-cited criticisms of solar power is that the sun doesn't shine 24 hours a day, the fact of the matter is that the sun never actually stops shining. Armed with this knowledge and a strong desire to solve the planet's energy supply problems, the former manager of NASA's Exploration Systems Research and Technology Program and co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Managed Energy Technologies LLC, John C. Mankins, has conducted an experiment in wireless power transmission over a 148-kilometer (92-mile) distance. Not having access to suitable spacecraft at the moment, the experiment was conducted between a couple Hawaiian islands and the energy was transmitted via microwaves. Of course, the Japanese are pondering how to do the same thing with lasers. If you want to learn more about how space-based solar could supply the energy to power our cities and transportation systems you can tune in to the Discovery Channel at 10 tonight for an hour-long special on the concept and experiment. The National Space Society also has a great web-based fount of information on space solar power if you want to learn even more. Press release after the break.

[Source: National Space Society]

PRESS RELEASE:

Space-Based Solar Power Breakthrough to Be Announced: First-of-a-Kind Long-Distance Demonstration of Solar-Powered Wireless Power Transmission Technology


WASHINGTON, Sept 11, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The following event announcement was released by the National Space Society: What: Space solar power could be a clean, renewable solution to America's long-term energy needs. John C. Mankins, former manager of NASA's Exploration Systems Research and Technology Program, and one of the foremost experts on space solar power, will announce on Friday a milestone demonstration of the critical technology enabling SSP: long-distance, solar-powered wireless power transmission. The project demonstrated wireless power transmission between two Hawaiian islands 148 kilometers apart, more than the distance from the surface of Earth to the boundary of space. It will be featured in an hour-long special that evening on Discovery Channel as part of DISCOVERY PROJECT EARTH, an eight-part series on the most ambitious geo-engineering ideas to tackle global climate change and the need for new and sustainable energy sources. Space-based solar power, in which large satellites would collect plentiful solar energy in orbit and beam it safely down to Earth, could one day reduce our carbon emissions to virtually zero. It is the only energy technology that is clean, renewable, constant and capable of providing power to virtually any location on Earth. Mankins will describe the demonstration project and show a realistic plan forward to develop this promising technology.

When: Friday, September 12, 2008 at 9:30am
Where: National Press Club, Lisagor Room 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor Washington, DC 20045 202-662-7500
Who: John C. Mankins, COO of Managed Energy Technologies LLC Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President, National Space Society
Hosted by: National Space Society About National Space Society The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and more than 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. For more information about NSS, visit www.nss.org.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Using photons, such as microwaves or laser beams, is not "beaming energy" or wireless energy, which relies upon electromagnetic induction to create remotely a flow of electrons in a wire.

      The space based solar arrays that Japan is launching soon (2012 operational, I believe) will collect energy constantly and reemit it as light photons in a concentrated fashion to overcome the inefficiency and transmission loss inherent in our atmosphere layer and collection materials. Sounds like an awesome idea to me.

      All these what-if's about planes flying into the beam or the beam missing, that's ridiculous for multiple reasons. There are feedback signals that ensure the beam is firing at the target and unobstructedly. Obstruction equals shutdown. This is aside from air-space restrictions around it, just as there are around nuclear power plants, etc. Microwaves are used because they cut through most efficiently our atmosphere (hence its use as radar), is a low power form of light so it won't burn hapless birds, and it's not in the visible spectrum so it won't blind people.

      It's a genius way of getting energy, and if people become as afraid of beams of harmless photons as they are of nuclear power, well, then, we're simply out of luck.

      Sonne Times: Political and Social Commentary
      http://jsonne.blogspot.com
      • 7 Years Ago
      What the Discovery program didn't mention was that:

      "Mankins has advised me that the end-to-end efficiency of the experiment was [b]very, very low[/b] - but by design. Budget limitations cut into the scale of the testing, with only a tiny fraction of the RF power going “straight” along the plane of the transmitter array."
      http://www.livescience.com/blogs/2008/09/12/solarsat-power-beaming-demo-revealed/

      This is totally impracticle right now, the receiving station would probably be several miles across as the graphics did show. It is doubtful the microwave would be powerful enough to do any damage to aircrafts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It sounds like a great way to get cancer. Obviously I know nothing about this technology. haha
        • 7 Years Ago
        Microwaves don't possess enough energy to produce carcionoma. If they did, the microwavable meal companies would be paying out the wazoo.

        Sonne Times: Political and Social Commentary
        http://jsonne.blogspot.com
        • 7 Years Ago
        If the microwaves escaped the microwave oven then yes it would cause cancer. That's why the oven doesn't turn on unless the door is closed.
      • 6 Years Ago
      as long as it's not used as a weapon. sounds like something out of james bond
      • 7 Years Ago
      Waste of money. For the $800 million it will cost to launch this, you could build a large solar panel array on earth.

      And if the rocket explodes then...bye bye tax payer's money.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It's hardly even wroth comparing an earth based array to one in space. This thing would be in sunlight much longer and completely unobstructed by the atmosphere. The only question is, would the transmission losses be sufficiently compensated for by all this extra power it's able to generate and then would there be a bonus above that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes and when birds or aircraft fly inadvertently through these (for microwaves & possibly lasers) invisible beams coming down through the atmosphere from space - that would be all she wrote...instant crispy critter.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes but what happens when the beam misses? Does it burn down your city?
      • 7 Years Ago
      A microwave oven uses a frequency that is strongly absorbed by water and foods, but for power beaming they would use a frequency that would not be absorbed by water or living things - otherwise the clouds would block transmission. For additional safety, the power beam would be spread out for low intensity, requiring a large array of tiny rectifying antennas to convert the microwaves back into electricity.

      While it certainly is technically feasible and the basic components have been tested, it couldn't possibly be economically feasible, due to the high cost of putting all those solar cells into a high geosynchronous orbit plus the extra cost of building the ground based receiver antenna array. It would be cheaper to put in 3x as many earth based solar cells plus energy storage for nighttime usage, or build the equivalent sized solar thermal plants using heat storage for nighttime operation.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It looks like a piece of pie.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can we use these solar panels to shade the earth at the same time ;)

      • 7 Years Ago
      Stupid idea. Just what exactly do these geniuses have planned for when the aliens attack? Morons.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Upload a virus to the mothership, duh.
      • 6 Years Ago
      to all you chimers out ehere pls let them at lease try, think about it, wheres your next tank of fuel coming from, south america ! steve from another planet
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X