Russia Plays with Orbiting Solar Power Station Potential
Russia is thinking of building a giant solar power station capable of collecting energy and beaming it to Earth. This idea was put forward by Central Scientific Research institute for Engineering, a subsidiary of the Russian Space Agency, Roskosmos.
The concept of such a power station was formulated by Peter Glasier in the US in 1968. It is aimed at beaming energy to Earth using giant solar panels. To generate necessary power, the panels should have an area of several square kilometers. The power would be converted to electricity onboard the spacecraft and sent to wherever it is needed on Earth by a large microwave-transmitting antenna, and then fed into a power grid.
The scientific research institute suggests using lasers instead of microwaves because radio beams are difficult to focus, and an area of several square kilometers will be needed for the receiving antenna. In case of a laser beam this area would be ten times smaller. However, at present, there are no such powerful lasers, although many infrared lasers distributed over the panel could be used instead. Their radiation would be put together and beamed to Earth.
The US, Japan, Europe and China plan to build solar power stations between 2030 and 2040. It is not surprising that Russia will join them, says Academician Alexander Zheleznyakov. This project will not be implemented in the near future. However, it’s necessary to study the problem, experts say. This may breed new technical solutions, such as more effective lasers or solar batteries.