New Company Looks to Produce Space Based Solar Power Within a Decade

Is space-based solar power (SBSP) a technology whose time has come? The concept and even some of the hardware for harnessing energy from the sun with orbiting solar arrays has been around for some time. But the biggest challenge for making the concept a reality, says entrepreneur Peter Sage of Space Energy, Inc., is that SBSP has never been commercially viable. But that could be changing. Space Energy, Inc. has assembled an impressive team of scientists, engineers and business people, putting together what Sage calls “a rock-solid commercial platform” for their company. And given the current looming issues of growing energy needs and climate change, Space Energy, Inc. could be in the right place at the right time.

“Although it’s a very grandiose vision, it makes total sense,” Sage told Universe Today. “This is an inevitable technology; it’s going to happen. If we can put solar panels in space where the sun shines 24 hours a day, if we have a safe way of transmitting the energy to Earth and broadcasting it anywhere, that is a serious game changer.” If everything falls into place for this company, they could be producing commercially available SBSP within a decade.

The basic concept of SBSP is having solar cells in space collecting energy from sun, then converting the energy into a low intensity microwave beam, sending it down to Earth where it is collected on a rectenna, and then fed into the power grid to provide electricity. Almost 200 million gigawatts of solar energy is beamed towards the Earth every second, which is more energy than our civilization has used since the dawn of the electrical age. We only need a way to harness that energy and make it usable.

Space Energy, Inc.’s vision is to help create an energy-independent world, and improve the lives of millions of people by bringing a source of safe, clean energy to the planet from space. They are looking to become the world’s leading, and perhaps the first, SBSP enterprise.

Solar collector beaming energy to Earth.  Image courtesy Mafic Studios.
Solar collector beaming energy to Earth. Image courtesy Mafic Studios.

“The biggest challenge for SBSP is making it work on a commercial level in terms of bottom line,” said Sage, “i.e., putting together a business case that would allow the enormous infrastructure costs to be raised, the plan implemented, and then electricity sold at a price that is reasonable. I say ‘reasonable’ and not just ‘competitive’ because we’re getting into a time where selling energy only on a price basis isn’t going to be the criteria for purchase.”

Currently, there are times in the US when electricity is sold wholesale for close to a dollar a kilowatt during peak usage or times of emergency when power needs to be shipped around the national grid. Sage said SBSP will never be cost comparable with the current going rate of 6 or 7 cents a kilowatt due to the enormous set-up costs.

“We believe we can get it to a reasonable price, a fair market price as the demand for energy increases,” Sage said.

A huge energy gap is looming for our world, and that too, will change the energy game.

According to a white paper written by aerospace engineer James Michael Snead, “The End of Easy Energy and What Are We Going To Do About It,” in order to meet the world’s projected increase in energy needs by 2100 which likely will be at least three times what is being produced today, today’s sustainable energy production must expand by a factor of over 25. Under that scenario, even if the US were to build 70 new nuclear plants, add the equivalent of 15 more Hoover Dams, expand the geothermal capacity by 50 times what it is today, install over a million large land or sea wind turbines covering 150,000 square miles, build 60,000 square miles of commercial solar voltaic farms, and on top of that convert 1.3 billion dry tons of food mass to bio fuels, still only 30% of the power needs would be filled by 2100, or perhaps even earlier.

“Looking at every single technology we can as a civilization to try and fill the energy gap in a clean and resourceful, sustainable way, technologies like SBSP have to be made to work,” said Sage.

Peter Sage.  Image courtesy Space Energy, Inc.
Peter Sage. Image courtesy Space Energy, Inc.

He says this is an important point. “We’re not setting ourselves up to compete with coal, or nuclear, or ground based solar or wind. I don’t want to pick a fight with any of those industries saying that we’re trying to take a piece of their pie. What we’re saying is that right now, from a responsible perspective in terms of being a good steward for the environment, we need to look at every single source of energy that we can get our hands on, primarily green, and develop it regardless, because we’re going to need it. SBSP is one of the few forms of energy that has the ability to be base-load, i.e., 24-7, and it’s the only form of energy that can be broadcast on demand.”

The first phase of Space Energy, Inc.’s plan is to launch a small prototype satellite into low Earth orbit. “This will help validate the numbers we are speculating on at this point, but also validate several different aspects of what SBSP can do,” said Sage. “From a successful demonstration, we are hoping to close power purchase agreements with one of several entities we are in discussions with at present. And on the strength of that we should be able to put the first commercial satellite in orbit.”

With regards to the timetable, Sage was hesitant to commit to a schedule. “As timetables go, everything needs to be flexible, but we are looking to close the financing for the demonstrator during the first quarter of this year (2009). The demonstrator is a 24 to 36 month project and, from there, we will start the commercial build-out of the main satellite, which could take up to four years to be operational.”

Satellites in orbit collecting solar power.  Image: National Space Society.
Satellites in orbit collecting solar power. Image: National Space Society.

That’s an aggressive schedule. But Sage said since their plan is being driven from a commercial basis, they can run their operation differently than government agencies who don’t necessarily operate with the bottom line in mind. “Our board members and entrepreneurial group certainly have a lot of experience running commercial entities. We know what we’re doing. We’re in a market that we hope to pioneer, and everyone feels confident that we have what it takes. We certainly have the passion, vision and enthusiasm to make this happen.”

What are the biggest hurdles to overcome in this project? “If you would have asked me that question a few months ago,” Sage replied, “I would have said a combination of meeting the right people who could understand the vision and scope of what it is what we’re doing, and raising the initial financing for the demonstrator. Those hurdles, at this point, really seem to be taken care of. The more we have our technical teams talk with investors, the more people understand that we’re real and this isn’t some sort of Star Trek giggle factor. Right now, with the level of due diligence that’s been done not only on SBSP itself, but with ourselves as a commercially viable entity, we’re on the forefront of many people’s agenda in terms of how to move this forward. We see a straight path to making this a reality.”

Sage said no new technology is needed for the demonstrator, which will be a working, small prototype, but challenges do remain to move forward beyond that. “Obviously, there are technical challenges because something of this scale has never been done before. We know we can do wireless power transmission, as NASA did some pretty significant tests on this in the 1970s. We know the physics of wireless power transmission, and how everything should work from geostationary orbit.”

While the demonstrator won’t be of any scale where energy could be sold commercially, it would be a proof of concept.

“Once we’ve demonstrated that we can wirelessly beam power accurately to the ground in a safe, controlled, effective manner, and in a way that can be metered and measured,” said Sage, “we will have taken a massive step forward to prove that SBSP is a technology of the future that has the potential to really fill a gap in the world’s energy needs.”

Some have equated developing SBSP to what was accomplished with the Apollo program.

“There are so many positive spinoffs to SBSP as a game changing foundation of space commerce, that just by addressing a lot of the challenges that lay ahead, we will be blazing a trail for many other opportunities for a low earth orbit economy,” Sage added.

A rectenna on Earth collects microwaved energy from space solar collectors.  Image courtesy Mafic Studios.
A rectenna on Earth collects microwaved energy from space solar collectors. Image courtesy Mafic Studios.

Space Energy, Inc. recently attended the World Future Energy Summit and has been overwhelmed with the response.

“We’ve had discussions with many different entities, both governmental and private, in the Middle East; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Dubai, many areas around Europe, and many of the world’s top investment firms. I don’t think we’re going to be short of people that will want to support us.” Sage added that in general, SBSP has strong support in Washington DC, and that SBSP recently was added to a list of technologies being studied by the Obama administration.

SBSP has ability to literally change the course of history, and impact the quality of life for people everywhere. Sage said this project is an entrepreneurs’ dream.

“I speak for our entire team here, we’re not just focused on how much money are we going to make,” Sage said. “We’re focused on the fact that this is an inevitable technology and someone is going to do it. Right now we’re the best shot. We’re also focused on the fact that, according to every scenario we’ve analyzed, the world needs space based solar power, and it needs it soon, as well as the up-scaling of just about every other source of renewable energy that we can get our hands on.”

“Space based solar power will happen whether we crack cold fusion, or whether we suddenly go to 80% efficiency on ground based solar power (currently its only at 50%),” Sage continued. “It has to happen based on the nature on what it is. With that in mind, I’ve been willing to put everything I have on the line to be able to make this work, and that was three years, ago. To see how far we’ve come in the past six to eight months has been amazing.”

“This is going to happen.”

For more information:
Space Energy, Inc.
Space Energy, Inc.’s interactive flash presentation
Video presentation on Space Based Solar Power by Mafic Studios

54 Replies to “New Company Looks to Produce Space Based Solar Power Within a Decade”

  1. I think the safety certification aspect will be, well, interesting. One thing to demonstrate you can beam power down, another to show that it will stay safe under all reasonably foreseeable contingencies – you don’t want the transmitter being knocked slightly and frying the neighbours. Also, reliability and maintainability – what will they do if something goes wrong topside?

  2. Pie in the sky.

    There’s no way it’ll be profitable to lauch those things into space anytime soon.

    It’s not like we’re short on places to put solarcells down here *on* Earth.

  3. “what will they do if something goes wrong topside?”

    well, I see more good reasons for manned spaceflight activities

  4. None of this makes sense unless they also anticipate a massive decrease in launch costs in the same time frame. Something, after all, has to get materials and assemblers up there. That’s way out of reach of even the cheapest ELV, and no one seems to be doing any serious work on orbital Reusable Launch Vehicles at this time…

  5. Frank Glover Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Vagueofgodalming Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Sili Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I would say, that unless they’re totally stupid, they have thought long and hard about these issues. Come to think of it though, the Sage guy looks like he’s about 15 in the photo, so maybe that’s not too far off the money…

    Anyway – I admire their vision and tenacity. It would be an impressive feat, even if it is totally impractical in the end. Who knows though? Maybe in 40 years time we’ll have legions of little robots building mega solar arrays up in orbit, which will then convert solar energy to useful forms and beam it down to us. I think ground based solar, now in it’s mere infancy, has a little while to run before we resort to this though…

  6. It don’t have to be reuseable, it must be cheap and reliable.
    I think the safety issue is overrated. With some smart engineering, it will be as safe as any of the hundreds of other “dangerous” devices we use every day.
    A laser and a sensor wired to some form of kill switch will probably do enough to keep these things from baking a city.

  7. “200 million gigawatts of solar energy is beamed towards the Earth every second” ?
    “a dollar a kilowatt” ?
    Hum, something’s wrong there! 😉
    A watt is a unit of power, in other words energy / time: 1 watt = 1 joule per second. So it is 200 gigawatts, nothing more.
    Conversely, what you get for money is energy, not power. It has to be a kilowatt-hour, or 3600 joules.

  8. Mr. Snead does forecast that the world will need at least three times more energy than what is being produced today while according to a study of the German Federal Ministry of Economics the energy consumtion in Germany will drop drastically.

    Compared with the year 2002 private households will consume about 14 percent less until 2030. The industry will consume about 7 percent less in Germany.

  9. dollhopf, the “in Germany” part of your comment is key. Germany is already an industrialized, first-world nation that has a high standard of living. It uses a lot of energy, some of which is wasted, and this wasted energy can be reduced and conserved.

    The emerging countries of the world, however, in order to reach Germany’s (and other developed nations’) standard of living, will have to increase their level of energy usage. So world energy production will have to increase, if the goal is to improve everyone’s standard of living to that of those in the developed world.

  10. Well, at least the idea is really great. Successful experiments of transmitting power at short distances has been carried out but at such long distances, its really challenging. First main problem is to collect solar energy in very large quantity and then make a very coherent beam which comes straight to the reciever and power is not scattered. And then receiver should have the abillity to face this high power concentrated beam and not burn out.

  11. For Man, who wrote that a kilowatt-hour is 3600 joules – one kWh is a thousand times that.

  12. dollhopf wonders about the units and says: “It has to be a kilowatt-hour, or 3600 joules”

    I noticed it, too, but I reckon 1 kwh equals 36000000 J.

    kw is a unit similar to hp, and talking about something like “twenty horsepower per second” makes no sense, really.

    apart from that, every little bit helps, even though it may seem small, for starters. I’m a firm believer in geothermal power as THE power source of the future, though. Planet Earth can be looked at as a huge natural radio isotope power plant, similar to what NASA has planned for the Mars Science Lab.

  13. One thing that really confuses me when I hear about people trying to proposed a space-based solar power project is a complete ignorance of existing solar power projects that are already in space.

    By far and away the largest current space-based solar power project is the International Space Station. Admittedly it isn’t designed for transmitting the power back to the Earth, but it is a significant amount of power that is comparable to a commercial power generation facility that is on a main utility grid. The ISS produces about 110 kilowatts of power (the correct unit here…. that is 110 kilowatt-hours per hour).

    I would challenge any company to be able to “cheaply” put together a 110 kilowatt power station in space that can demonstrate power consumption any better than what already exists on the ISS. The point I’m making here is that this power station isn’t even being referenced or brought into consideration by these folks, nor are practical problems that have been discovered by putting in a power supply this powerful into orbit being used as a baseline for what other issues may come up.

    Pie in the sky and vaporware are written all over this venture. If they do their homework and try to reference existing power structures used in a similar manner (Skylab and Mir are two other similar high-power producers in space…. both needed the power), I might consider these folks to be somewhat legitimate.

    I’ll believe it when I see real hardware.

  14. Pie in the sky?

    Assuming they can meet their benchmarks in the proof of concept phase, I hardly see launch costs as a major limiting factor.

    The sattelite will have to be made of lightweight composite materials, be modular, self expanding and self assembling.

    There are thousands of tons of garbage that we’ve thrown into orbit over the decades – we’ve proven we can handle the dumb brute-force jobs in orbit. This job will require an evolution in the thinking on the part of designers and engineers. but that was the next logical step anyway.

    At the risk of stirring up the luddites, this project might/should employ some of the same design concepts, materials and technologies as space elevators and launch teathers.

  15. It would probably be much easier to construct these things on the Moon and then launch them, or use a Near Earth Asteroid. Of course, to do that within a decade is completely unfeasible, but 50 years? 100? Possible by then.

  16. “Assuming they can meet their benchmarks in the proof of concept phase, I hardly see launch costs as a major limiting factor.”

    Launch costs of $10000 per pound (or about $25000 per kilogram)? Incredibly optimistic projections have this coming down to about $1000 per kilogram (yes, that is $1 USD per gram….. think about it!) How can this possibly be done economically at all?

    The international space station costs somewhere about €100 Billion (that is 1 followed by 11 zeros) to build and set up by all of the governments involved, as cited by the ESA. Admittedly that isn’t entirely power generation equipment, but power generation is a rather significant part of that figure. I am challenging the assumption that this is going to be cheap or easy to do based on real projects that are currently in space on proven hardware. Show me something different and you might have a case, but paper project that have no actual hardware can’t be compared.

    Yes, setting up the ISS is perhaps the high end of costs here, and I’ll concede that the power generation systems on the ISS are only about 10% of the cost of the whole thing. That still is a pile of money for even a demonstration system that would be hard to put together even for the most well-intentioned of people. That makes a power station which costs €1 million per watt to operate. Yeah, that is something people are going to be flocking from everywhere to tap into!

  17. in reference to josephdietrich Says: February 19th, 2009 at 3:59 am

    Dear Joseph Dietrich, I guess that you are right.

  18. Addendum: But there was also a sort of revolution in Germany which changed the course of social consciousness, kind of a self-denial and self-destruction. I wonder whether the social costs do really justify the social losses caused by this movement. Here in Germany they do not spare electricity, fuel, oil, energy, <emrohstoffe only because it is economical (means:rational). They do it by utilising ideology.

    If you want to experience how it is to feel the urge to save the world every single day (and make money by the way) then observe the political debates in Germany. LOL

  19. Finally, we have an exciting new prospect to finish the works and ideas of Tesla. I for one agree this to be an issue of extreme importance and what better time then now to start on such a great project. Maybe it’ll kick start the economy and get people working again on something as huge as the Apollo program. Kudos to Peter Sage and all the investors for having the vision and drive to solve our energy problems.

  20. Well, the exact beaming and transmission can be well optimized from space. That is great. But if we have 99% efficiency, and only 1% is absorbed in the athmosphere, we would have a problem. Most probably it would produce a vertical warm channel, and I think, that would play a global role soon enough.

    And if we increase the used amount of energy, even if it is produced the cleanest possible ways, that ends up as heat in the biosphere at the end. And that heat is becoming a problem sooner or later.

  21. It seems to me that someone has been watching a bit too much japanese anime. This is basically the plot basis of the last Gundam 00. Solar collectors in space. I’m all for it. 🙂

    With sufficient and permanent power it becomes possible to build a Space fountain to use as a space elevator and power conduit channel.

  22. We never use energy efficiently. We always waste some (usually most of it), and waste it in the form of emitted head. The more energy we use, the more we heat the world. Earth-based solar collectors make use of energy which already reaches the surface, and therefore when we use that source of energy inefficiently we don’t contribute to global warming. A spaced-based solar collector is different. It transmits energy that otherwise wouldn’t make it to the surface, and consequently will seriously exacerbate our current problem with global warming.

    While the idea sounds grand, in practice it’s yet another example of business wanting a buck without paying for the damage it causes.

    This technology needs to be supressed for the good of the planet.

    Let them, instead, build multiple earth-based solar collectors, positioned all around the planet so that energy is harvested 24×7. That energy can also be transmitted around the planet but is truly free of the environment cost inherent in energy-waste. Given the enormous cost of putting a collection platform in space, and in servicing it, earth-based collectors might even cost less to implement than one based in space.

  23. I can agree somewhat on the increased amount of energy to reach the biosphere, but how many parts per million are we talking about, compared to that which already reaches the planets surface?

  24. How is this green technology? The production of solar panels is already ecologically expensive. Then you have to launch all this weight into orbit. Thus requiring a massive amount of energy. What is the livespan of these solar panels? How much energy will they produce, and how much will be spend before they are deployed in space?

  25. Power is sold in units of kilowatt-hours, not kilowatts. If an article can’t even get the simple stuff right, why should we believe the rest of it?

  26. The thermal waste mentioned here is insignificant, compared with the planetary thermal retention caused by CO2 production from organic fuels. Building earth based solar cells has the same environmental consequences as launching them into space, with one caveat. Earth based solar cells assemblies must use 10 times as much silicon as the space based variety, to produce the same amount of power, which negates the energy launch costs.. Every mode of power generation has trade offs. Space based power generation has the advantage that the solar cells could and eventually should be produced from off planet sources, ie, lunar or asteroidal. Thus both launch costs and material sources can be separate from earth based systems, reducing the environmental load..

    GAry 7

  27. Assuming it can be done it all, is it really worth the cost? There is enough energy that is reaching the surface of the earth. To cope with the intermittent nature of sunlight you need more collectors. What does going to space buy you — Cutting down the collector area by 75%. You want to do this by putting them into space and beam the energy to earth?? How are you going to assure me that beaming all that concentrated energy through space is safe?

    Space technology has its uses but this is a dumbass idea. If this idea has to ever make any finacial sense space technology has to be so commoditized that the research cost is amortized to zero. And once they are in the space they are maintenance free.


  28. Igf 70 new nuclear generators & some renewable stuff, would provide 30% of the new power needed by 2100 rhen 250 would provide the lot which is 2.5 new generators (I’m assuming these are 1 gigwatt ones) a year or they could just build 100 of the 2.5 GW ones.

  29. The military might be a customer – they need power in odd places on short notice, and they’re willing to pay more than $.10/kWh if it saves some risk. (The driver of the fuel truck in a supply convoy does not have a safe job.)

  30. A geosynchronous orbit is required to operate this system, which makes the system un-usable due to the continuous refueling requirements of propellant to maintain the position. Satellites all have declining orbits, so this is just foolishness.

    I’d love to see the result of an orbital deviation as it drags a beam of solar energy threw a school.


  31. What does it mean to be a “good steward of the environment”? Talk about wooly-headed! Nobody knows the “correct” state of the earth to be maintained forever or whether we are at that state now. Global warming is bunk, used to extend state control by the likes of Al Gore, the great climate scientist! Notice that words like “steward” are of religious origin, used to impress and overawe. Not coincidentally, Al Gore flunked out of divinity school. How about letting people choose by voting with their dollars what kind of power they want?

  32. I have a new car that can reach 3 billion miles an hour. That’s farther than all the cars in the world go in a day.

    The claim about kilowatts and world energy consumption in this article is just as meaningless.

  33. “A geosynchronous orbit is required to operate this system, which makes the system un-usable due to the continuous refueling requirements of propellant to maintain the position.”

    So what’s keeping all the geosyncronous communications satelites in their orbits? How often are they refueled? It may be foolishness but your crassly stated reasoning lacks any explanation as to why you should be believed and the last guy should be ignored.

    “I’d love to see the result of an orbital deviation as it drags a beam of solar energy threw a school.”

    Surely you jest.


  34. “Dinkin: When will the price of electricity start to drop if you were given the money today?

    Criswell: Approximately 15 years after the start of an Apollo-priority program the cost of electricity would drop beneath $0.10/kilowatt electricity hour (kWe-h). By 2040 the cost would be a fraction of a cent per kWe-h.”
    Check it out!

  35. Where to even begin? OK, here goes:

    Jfan, good to meet another anime fan. There were tests on wireless power transmission about the time Gatchaman and Cutey Honey were competing for viewers, and all of Gundam, from Mobile Suit on, was inspired by the book The High Frontier, by Gerard O’Neill. Some of the paper studies go back to the time of Speed Racer.

    Newall, ground-based solar panels absorb heat that would ordinarily be reflected into space. Consider that a coal-fired power plant puts more energy into the environment in the form of heat than into the grid as electricity, and nuclear is worse. Ground-based solar is even worse than that. But the conversion of the beam only puts a tenth as much energy into the environment as waste heat as into the grid as electricity.

    Nasa Jet Propl., the issue of satellites being able to stay in geosynchronous orbit just fine has been addressed, so I’ll answer the question about dragging the beam through a school. First off, if you can think of that, so can the engineers, and they have, and they’ve arranged for the beam to shut off if it goes off the receiver. And after what I’ve read about these beams, I’d be prepared to stroll naked through the middle of one. They just are not dangerous.

  36. Great, now the greedy have even figured out a way to make us pay endlessly for free energy from the sun, and they will probably outlaw individual solar panels, too. Lovely.

  37. I wonder what protection is built in against a transmission malfunction.

    Imagine the catatrophic results if the power beam were to wonder around on the earth’s surface due to an instability in the guidence systems.

    Who would bear the cost of whole neighbourhoods being burned out?

  38. hello,

    this could certainly work, but wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to
    use the earth’s magnetic field? the earth rotates, the magnetic field
    does not, therefore all you need to do is cut the field with a grounded
    laser beam. hence, an electric generator, the same you built in high
    school and the same used in hoover dam, etc.


  39. Sounds like the cost of something like this would be ridiculously high. It cost alot of money to put equipment into space. That means that they’ll have to charge a large amount for the electricity that they produce, plus I wonder how much energy is lost converting it from solar energy to low frequency microwaves, then beamed to the ground.

    This is not a viable solution for future energy, projects like ITER that are working towards making Nuclear Fusion reactors a reality should be getting more attention. Who needs to go to the Sun when you can create one here on Earth?

  40. Someone needs to introduce these people to the inverse square law.

    Here’s what’s going to happen with this:

    Investors will pour millions into it. Top people will earn fat salaries for years, always promising next year, next year, next year…

    Once it become clear that it’s not going anywhere, they’ll file for bankruptcy, and move on to the next grandiose scheme.

  41. Sorry Mark, but if you are so clever and do know everything better, then why do you need “someone”? Make an exhibition of yourself! Yes, I also can see what’s going to happen, if you are going to tread an aerospace engineer like a nipper.

  42. Most of these questions are quite valid.

    The best approach toward meeting demmand is to reduce the demmand through efforts that are already showing promise in that area.

    However, this would be an excellent way to help power a captured comet or asteroid that is converted into a bioshere for the purpose of providing an alternate habitat for insurance on the survival of our species.

    That captured object will need to be significant in mass and have an ice core. Once the technology of carbon nano structure is complete then a simple tube would house the beam from the collector to the point of distribution. The energy generated will also be used to convert the ice into water, oxygen and hydrogen. This artificial planet would actually be an independant space vessel that could move through the solar system and make itself a satellite of any other sphere with sufficient gravity. The atmosphere of this vessel encased in a nano carbon shell will be stable in comparison to the earth because it will not have the wobble factor associated with living planets like the earth.

    keep smiling

  43. dollhopf, do a search on “inverse square law” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. If he really is an aerospace engineer, he should already know this.

    For every kilowatt of power they transmit from space to a ground receiver, assuming NO atmospheric losses and PERFECT coupling at the recieving antenna, they will have MICROWATTS of power to sell to a waiting public.

    Do the math.

  44. This is a ridiculous idea. Here’s 10 reasons why.
    1) If the satellite is in geosynchronous orbit it will still be shadowed by the earth for a period of time each day (i.e. not always on).
    2) There will be significant efficiency losses, in the conversion from DC to microwave, probably beyond the efficiency gained by having the array in space rather than on earth.
    3) Any wirelessly propagated signal through space spreads out as it travels reducing its power density thus the collector on the ground would have be larger than an equivalent power ground based solar array.
    4) Microwave frequencies are greatly attenuated and/or scattered by water vapor (will clouds be outlawed?).
    5) To be of any use the power level would have to be in the multi-million watt range on the ground. Consider what happens to an object in a thousand watt microwave oven. So with antenna sidelobes 50dB down the ground would be getting hit with 10,000 watts outside the main beam.
    6) Now suppose a space rock hits the satellite tilting its beam a few degrees, you’ve now fried a town a few hundred miles away.
    7) Over time little pieces of space dust will pit the antenna defocusing the beam.
    8) Consider that the launch of a satellite the size of a desk is around $300 million. The cost of launching the enormous equipment in space would never result in a “reasonable” price per kilowatt. We’re talking the size of arrays of solar cells on the order of acres.
    9)Microwave signals on the order of megawatts on the ground would ruin communications equipment 100’s of miles away from the main beam and still cause interference 1000’s of miles away.
    10) When that sucker finally falls out of orbit you’re talking ground impacts like atomic bombs.

  45. Dear ‘boboli’,

    I sense a certain cognitive discrepancy while reading your broad spectrum of counter-arguments.

    Is this “team of scientists, engineers and business people” behind this SBSP concept simply purely ignorant?
    Or – if Mark is right then – are these people simply sucking Peter Sage dry? Do I understand both of you right that they just would be nothing but a punch of impostors?

    I guess that much more sophisticated people than me have also trouble to make sense out of the pros and cons.

    I do appreciate your comment, but I can’t simply say that you are right and that they are not. The article says that there will be a demonstrator. So could we not agree in giving them the opportunity to convince by facts?

  46. Addendum

    and I guess that their decission to test SBSP does in no way depend on me or you or Mike.

  47. I am participating in a UIL State debate tournament. I would be very appreciative if ya’ll could provide a source for your disagreements for the solar based solar panel plans.

  48. Any research into the background of those behind Space Energy will show that they are seasoned conmen. I’m with Mark on this one. For it to work, they would need bilions of dollars, but they are concentrating on baffling naive fools with relatively small amounts of money to ‘invest’ and promising definite amounts of return profit within 2 years – I wonder if they could explain this to real scientists, instead of hiding behind nutjobs at the Pentagon who are interested in the technology purely for military purposes. Land-based desert solar-power arrays would be much more practical and reliable – will they also be building the fleet that they will need for maintenance of what would have to be a few dozen geo-stationary satellites?

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