Collecting solar energy on Earth is nothing new and is being done all over the world. However over in Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has recently announced their plans to beam solar energy gathered from space back down to earth. The company had demonstrated the technology by sending 10 kilowatts over microwaves from a transmitting unit to a receive 500 meters away.
The idea is for an orbiting solar farm which could technically collect power all the time as they would be able to harvest the sun’s beams without having to deal with night/day. It’s an interesting concept and we believe that it has huge potential, but it seems that we could still be a long way from that actually being made a reality.
This is because the amount of power gathered versus the amount of power received is still not very efficient yet. Earlier tests found that only a tiny fraction of the power sent was actually received, meaning that a lot of power was lost during the process. That being said Mitsubishi says that this basically verifies the viability of the concept, which we have to agree with.
It also raises some safety concerns because if the microwave connection between the orbiting power station and the receiver units were to be increased, it would require workers to wear protective clothing. While such technology could potentially be used as a possible replacement for nuclear power, Mitsubishi also states that it could potentially be used to help wirelessly power electric cars as well.