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Pleasing news for people interested in getting environment friendly power
Vishnu Mohan | 25 Jan 2011

Indian scientists can do well to explore possibilities of tying up with Japanese scientists on the above project if opportunity exists through collaborative projects involving leading technology institutes.

A TEAM of scientists from many Japanese organisations will begin tests this year on a “space based power generation technology using satellites” which could be pleasing news for people interested in getting environment friendly power.  The technology aims at converting sunlight into electricity by transferring the power into microwaves and then sending the microwaves back to Earth.
 
Important features and highlights on this project are as follows :
 
- Experts believe Space based solar power generation could be ten times more efficient than earthbound solar power generation.
 
- The strength of sunlight in space is about twice that on earth and there are four to five times the hours of sunlight due to the absence of clouds.
 
- Mitsubishi Electric has proposed what it calls the Solarbird project, in which 40 relatively small 200 metre solar power generating satellites would be launched. It is expected this process could produce 1 (one) kilowatts of electricity equivalent to a nuclear power plant.
 
- The solarbird system would collect sunlight using reflecting mirrors fitted onto satellites in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator.  After the electricity is generated, it would be converted into microwaves and transmitted to Earth.
 
- The key to making the system practical hinges on the efficient conversion of electricity into microwaves.  If the team succeeds in converting a strong electrical current into microwaves and transmitting them 10m, it will then start on reducing the weight of the power generation equipment and improving the transmission technology.
 
- A successful test would probably accelerate the goal of putting a space based power generation system into practical use by 2025.  The project team hopes to launch a trial satellite sometime after 2016.
 
Indian scientists can do well to explore possibilities of tying up with Japanese scientists on the above project if opportunity exists through collaborative projects involving leading technology institutes.