A major breakthrough in solar power was announced by JAXA, Japan’s space administration – making the idea of powering humanity by gathering an endless supply of solar energy from space a reality. Scientists working for JAXA announced that they’ve been able to wirelessly power transmission in space with a high degree of accuracy for the first time.
The team reportedly beamed 1.8 kilowatts, enough energy to power an electric tea kettle, more than 50 meters to a small receiver without any wires. Next on their docket: scaling the technology for use in tomorrow’s orbital solar farms.
JAXA researchers were able to successfully do so by first converting the electrical signal to microwaves, then beaming them to a remote receiver, and finally converting them back into electrons. This experiment is the first time scientists have been able to move electrons over any appreciable distance with such a high level of accuracy, one JAXA researched explained to the AFP.
JAXA has spent much effort working on this technology for years as part of the agency’s SSPS (Space Solar Power Systems) effort. The program intends to harness the constant supply of solar energy directly from space by use of orbital farms, then beaming it back to Earth (and into a global gird) with microwave transmission. What’s more, these orbital arrays would never have to encounter obscuring cloud coverage or darkened nights as their terrestrial counterparts often do; which makes solar power generation in space even more advantageous than its Earth-based cousin.
“We believe we demonstrated the possibility of commercializing wireless power transmission through our experiment,” Mitsubishi said in a statement on Friday.
Despite the breakthrough, the SSPS is still far closer to science fiction than reality but JAXA’s latest success clears one of the biggest and most fundamental obstacles facing the program: delivering power from space without having to run an extension cord out to Low Earth Orbit, Engadget reported.