The world mostly relies on fossil fuels for its energy needs though sincere efforts are underway to end this reliance and shift towards greener alternatives. Solar and wind power generation are just two of the many proposed alternatives to make this happen. The People’s Republic of China has ambitions to lead the way in solar energy as it seeks to build a massive solar power station in space.
Even on paper a solar power station is going to be the largest man-made construction ever in space. Chinese scientists plan that the station will have 6 square kilometers of solar panels that will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 36,000 km.
To put things in perspective the solar station will be so large that people on Earth will look up and see what would appear as just another star to them.
There are some obvious advantages of having a solar power station in space. First off there’s no day/night cycle up there so the sun’s energy can be harnessed all the time. Weather won’t be a factor as well so no tricky clouds will block the sun.
The tricky part is getting the harnessed energy back to earth. It could involve the use of microwaves or lasers but that would evoke security fears.
Moreover a plant of this size will weigh more than 10,000 tons. Most rockets today can carry payloads of up to 100 tons so construction will be a huge expense and chore if some radical advancements are not made on this front.
It will take many years before the technology is ready that could allow for such a power station to be built in space. At least they’re considering the possibility despite all the issues associated with manufacturing and even maintenance.