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.
Solar Power Satellites
SPS: What Is It?
India's Energy Challenges
Access to Space
Law and Legislation
SPS Databases and Archives