The point is evident through the announcement made by the Air Force Academy included plans of a small demonstration satellite that was to beam down a meager of about 0.1 watts of solar power and still significant.
Harnessing the full light of the Sun in Space
The sun emits more than 10 trillion times the energy that has currently been consumed by the entire world. The energy needed to be tapped only a small fraction of that and can be used for many years to come. The advantage of harnessing sunlight in space is that it is continuously available, and is between three and 13 times stronger than that which reaches the earth's surface. Installation of improved solar cells regarding efficiency can now be done by robots, which 100 times less cost as compared to previous seasons. With the use of current technology, the price would be the same as that in harnessing ground-based solar.
Less a Science Fiction and More of a Reality
Today, the United States, India, Japan, and China have been planning space-based solar power projects that are at different stages regarding development. These projects are aimed at seeing robots assembling solar arrays that will go a long way in providing Earth with large amounts of renewable and clean energy that the projects aspire will be delivered wirelessly.
Variables in the idea see an extent of 1GW of energy being beamed to the receivers on Earth, which is enough energy to power large cities. There had been studies conducted by the US Department of Energy and NASA in the late 1970s, and this cost around $20 million at that time and the study was investigated in depth. They concluded that there was indeed nothing wrong with the physics carried out and that the real issue in carrying out the project included economic problems. The primary determinants of the cost involved the number of pace launches needed in building the power transmitted by satellites. The estimated cost can go as high as $40, 000 per kilogram for a small number of space launches, and the final expenditure for the pioneering space-based solar power station can be as high as $20 billion.
Firstly, there are two proven approaches in getting the power to Earth. These include in the form of microwaves or laser beams. While laser-transmitting satellites would have difficulty in transmitting power through hail, rain or other atmospheric conditions, microwave-based one would require at least 100 launched into space. For both the forms, however, the public relation has had concerns due to the lasers with space battles in science fiction and joint association of microwave with the kitchen ovens.