How China’s space-bound solar installation will beam power down to earth


Solar panels in space

Researchers are exploring new means of providing power.

Researchers in China are planning a solar farm in space, an ambitious project that could deliver energy at six times the intensity of installations on Earth. The project, which made the front page of China’s Science and Technology Daily last week, would orbit in space and beam down energy to a receiver.

The station would reportedly orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth and benefit from harvesting energy without any complications from seasonal changes or atmospheric conditions, providing energy 99 percent of the time. It’s expected to weigh a staggering 1,000 tons, around 600 tons more than the International Space Station, so the researchers are exploring alternatives like using robots and 3D printers to build the construction in space. The idea is nothing new: NASA started researching the idea in the mid-1970s during the Arab oil embargo, and even devised bold concepts like the SunTower:

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