Beaming power to earth from solar panels in space? Don’t giggle, it would work. Slate has the details:
Large pieces of a space-solar-power station would be shot from a launch site on Earth into space. Once in orbit, they’d be assembled into facilities that likely would be miles wide. (Proposals differ about the setup and the particular solar-capturing technologies the facilities would use.) Freed from terrestrial limitations of clouds, bad weather, and nighttime darkness, the spacecraft would harvest sunlight essentially 24 hours a day. They’d send the electricity they produced back to Earth either as microwaves or as laser beams. Back on the ground, according to most designs, that energy would be caught by similarly massive agglomerations of mesh: huge rectifying antennas, or, in the lingo, “rectennas.” From there, the electricity would be fed into the grid.
In 2011, a story in National Geographic had this to say:
According to a new report [PDF] by the International Academy of Astronautics(IAA), space-based solar technologies now in development in the lab will be technically feasible and ready for practical demonstration within the next decade or two.
What’s more, based on existing technologies, space-based solar could be an economically viable alternative to today’s commercial energy sources within the next 30 years, concludes the report published last month.
The use of fossil fuels must come to an end. The money needed to do it is inconsequential compared to the horrific changes to our climate if we do nothing. There are still many things we can do here on earth, but we must consider all possibilities.