Solar Power Satellites

The new millennium has introduced increased pressure for finding new renewable energy sources. The exponential increase in population has led to the global crisis such as global warming, environmental pollution and change and rapid decrease of fossil reservoirs. Also the demand of electric power increases at a much higher pace than other energy demands as the world is industrialized and computerized. Under these circumstances, research has been carried out to look into the possibility of building a power station in space to transmit electricity to Earth by way of radio waves-the Solar Power Satellites. Solar Power Satellites(SPS) converts solar energy in to micro waves and sends that microwaves in to a beam to a receiving antenna on the Earth for conversion to ordinary electricity.

SPS is a clean, large-scale, stable electric power source. Solar Power Satellites is known by a variety of other names such as Satellite Power System, Space Power Station, Space Power System, Solar Power Station, Space Solar Power Station etc. One of the key technologies needed to enable the future feasibility of SPS is that of Microwave Wireless Power Transmission.WPT is based on the energy transfer capacity of microwave beam i.e, energy can be transmitted by a well focused microwave beam. Advances in Phased array antennas and rectennas have provided the building blocks for a realizable WPT system.

Increasing global energy demand is likely to continue for many decades. Renewable energy is a compelling approach - both philosophically and in engineering terms. However, many renewable energy sources are limited in their ability to affordably provide the base load power required for global industrial development and prosperity, because of inherent land and water requirements. The burning of fossil fuels resulted in an abrupt decrease in their .it also led to the green house effect and many other environmental problems. Nuclear power seems to be an answer for global warming, but concerns about terrorist attacks on Earth bound nuclear power plants have intensified environmentalist opposition to nuclear power.

Moreover, switching on to the natural fission reactor, the sun, yields energy with no waste products. Earth based solar panels receives only a part of the solar energy. It will be affected by the day & night effect and other factors such as clouds. So it is desirable to place the solar panel in the space itself, where, the solar energy is collected and converted in to electricity which is then converted to a highly directed microwave beam for transmission. This microwave beam, which can be directed to any desired location on Earth surface, can be collected and then converted back to electricity. This concept is more advantageous than conventional methods. Also the microwave energy, chosen for transmission, can pass unimpeded through clouds and precipitations.

The concept of a large SPS that would be placed in geostationary orbit was invented by Peter Glaser in 1968. The SPS concept was examined extensively during the late 1970s by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The DOE-NASA put forward the SPS Reference System Concept in 1979. The central feature of this concept was the creation of a large scale power infrastructure in space, consisting of about 60 SPS, delivering a total of about 300GW.But, as a result of the huge price tag, lack of evolutionary concept and the subsiding energy crisis in 1980-1981, all U.S SPS efforts were terminated with a view to re-asses the concept after about ten years. During this time international interest in SPS emerged which led to WPT experiments in Japan.