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Issue 16: Alternative Energy

China Unveils Plan for Solar Power Station in Space

September 02, 2011

“Want China Times” Taipei, Taiwan, in English

By Staff Reporter from the "News/Environment" section

"The development of a solar power station in space will fundamentally change the way in which people exploit and obtain power," Wang Xiji, a space technology pioneer at the China Academy of Sciences, said while presenting the results of his team's research on developing such a station.

Talking highly about China's ambitious space solar energy program, 90-year-old Wang said such a station could promote international cooperation. "Whoever takes the lead in the development and utilization of clean and renewable energy and the space and aviation industry will be the world leader," Wang said at the fourth China Energy Environment Summit Forum on Aug 28.

The program will utilize existing technology to launch solar-collector satellites into geostationary orbit. These satellites will convert the sun's radiation into electricity 24 hours a day, and safely transmit the electricity via microwaves to rectifying antennas on Earth. The concept was first proposed by US space expert Peter Glaser in 1968.

Currently, the United States, Japan, Europe and Russia have plans to invest several billion US dollars in establishing their own 1 million-kilowatt power stations to begin operation between 2030 and 2040. China has not yet taken its first step in this regard.

A team led by Wang completed research on the development, timelines and policy for space solar power station technology in August. The program offers guidelines for developing such a station. It aims to complete analysis of space solar power applications, detailed design of system solutions and key technologies as well as key technologies for authentication by 2020. Under the plan, a space solar energy station for commercial use will be completed by 2040.

Wang believes such a station will trigger a technical revolution in the fields of new energy, new material, solar power and electricity.

Wang said the area of space and aviation is an emerging strategic industry and the development of a space solar-energy station requires high-end technology. Such a program would lead to the emergence of several industries, Wang said. He believes it could lead to a technical revolution and possibly even an industrial revolution.

China's solar energy stations down on planet Earth have developed rapidly. In 2010, the country's solar photovoltaic power capacity was 800,000 kilowatts, while 168 million square meters of area used solar-powered water heating.

The government's 12th five-year plan also proposes increasing the country's solar photovoltaic power generation capacity to 10 million kilowatts by 2015 and 20 million kilowatts by 2020.

It is estimated that a solar power station in orbit could harness five times the solar energy captured by stations on the ground.

Li Ming, a space technology expert, said that after 50 years of development, China's space and aviation industry has made significant progress and laid a sound foundation for a space solar power station.


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Issue No. 16:
Solar Power Satellites

Winter 2010

General Editor Introduction

From the Guest Editor

Quick Summary: Articles and Authors

SPS: What Is It?

Powering the Planet (video)

Harnessing the Sun

SPS on The Space Show (audio)

Alternative Energy

Global Warming / Climate Change

Economics of Power

India's Energy Challenges

China SPS Strategy and Schedule

The Argument

TEDx-London (video)

Earth Solar / Wind with SPS

Roadmap for SPS

Partnerships Public/Private

SPS R&D Funding

ComSats Next Generation

Disruptive Technology

NASA Contribution (audio)

Access to Space

Access is Key

Deploying Sunsats

Alternative Orbits

Space Transport (video)

Space Segment

Systems Integration (video)

Space Architectures

Server Sky

Wireless Power Transmission (video)

Law and Legislation

The Sunsat Act

SPS Legal Issues

Legal Challenges

SPS Solutions

Fresh Water Desalination

SPS via Prizes

Application Technologies (video)

Future Perspectives

The Spaceplane Equation

The Lunar Option

Space Solar Energy: a New Source of Energy in the Future?

SPS Updates

Rajogopalan ORF: US-India SSP Dream

China Times: Solar Power Station

People’s Daily: Space Solar Energy

Garretson: Indo-US Strategic Partnership

Space News: Why Not SSP?

SPS Databases and Archives

Space Solar Power Library

SBPS as an Opportunity

Special Report on SBPS

ISU's Space Aid for Energy

PG&E's Next Century of Energy

Space Energy Newsletter

Prize for Peace by CNN

Publication Resources

Energy Crisis from CGPublishing/Apogee Books

Paradise Regained from Springer-Copernicus


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