Advances in space technologies and a growing capability to build and launch reliable satellites means that it is now possible to build a solar farm based in Earth’s orbit, according to NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) Space & Defence envoy, Dr Paul Scully-Power.
This solar farm would be capable of harnessing the Sun’s energy and transmitting it to Earth around the clock.
“The energy can be transmitted down to any location on Earth, Scully-Power said. “So for countries like Australia with rural communities, you can beam the energy directly to that community.”
The orbit-based solar farm could look like a spacecraft made of connected satellites, capable of absorbing solar energy and transmitting it to Earth in microwave form.
The initial concept of building space solar farms was invented in the late 1960s and has been revisited many times since. Only recently it has become a viable solution.
“The rise in emissions has pushed energy prices higher than ever, which allows space-based solar to be supplied to the market with competitive prices,” Scully-Power said. “Advances in space technologies have a crucial role to play as well. For instance, it is much cheaper to build satellites and launch them into space nowadays than it was ten years ago. We have a company in Australia that’s working hand in glove with a company in America and they’ve already developed a design for a solar-based power system.
“We need the best possible energy advantage to rebuild our manufacturing and grow Australia’s might in the space industry. Space solar power gives us continuity of supply for almost 100 per cent of the time – and it is infinitely cheaper than anything that we’re using now.”
As the human population grows, Earth’s resources shrink. And the demand for energy is well above what Earth is capable of supplying. Scully-Power says that in 100 years, we will need to produce at least four times more energy than we do today to meet our population’s energy demands.
“It is vital for Australia to consider our energy supply chain from both a strategic and a climate-conscious perspective, if we are to maintain our present standard of living and protect our environment,” he said.