Solar power from space could be the solution to the world’s energy problems. However, like nuclear fusion, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding development costs and timelines. Nevertheless, scientists from China’s Zidian University have completed tests and inspections on the ground array. To collect space-based solar energy, bringing the world one step closer to witnessing operational space-based solar power.
According to a press release from the university, they successfully tested “the world’s first full-link and full-system solar power plant” on June 5.
A 246-foot-tall (75 m) steel tower on the southern campus of Xidian University houses the space-based solar power plant.
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The Xidian University power plant would theoretically be connected to orbiting satellites that would capture solar energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, due to their geostationary orbits, before sending that energy to Earth via high-frequency microwave beams. The power plant will consist of five subsystems dedicated to the development of space-based solar power arrays.
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Solar energy from space has great potential because it can collect energy continuously without having to wait for bad weather or the sun to rise. However, there are still obstacles to overcome, such as determining the impact of high-frequency energy beams on communications, aviation traffic and the health of local populations.
Xidian University’s new ground station is part of a concept for space-based solar power called OMEGA, which stands for Orb-Shape Membrane Energy Gathering Array. The proposal was first presented in 2014 by Duan Baoyan of Jidian University School of Electromechanical Engineering and his colleagues.
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