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China prepares space-based Solar Energy

Although space-based solar power is not a new idea, scientists in China are attempting to build and put into orbit a space station that will provide a continuous supply of solar energy back down to earth.

In 2010, members of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) produced a report that suggested China should experiment with a solar power station in space by 2030 and refine the construction by 2050 to be commercial viable.

Although currently in its conceptual stage, scientists plan to create a satellite larger than the international space station with an approximate total area of 5-6 kilometres consisting of solar panels, weighing in excess of 10,000lbs and ready to launch by 2020.

Understandably there are numerous obstacles in the construction, launch and operational attributes of the project without including obtaining the power generated from space. If the launch does indeed happen, scientists believe the energy produced could be transferred back to Earth via a laser beam similar to a microwave, but would require an energy efficiency rating of 50%+ to economically viable. 

Written by Nick Dereka, Head of Digital, Prime People Plc.