A new report calls more attention to the possibility of harnessing sunlight from space, where it is not limited by the day-night cycle or weather, as on Earth. The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) claims that using space-based solar power could become a reality in the coming decades. The most complicated technological aspects are in-space construction of large solar arrays, beaming the energy back to Earth and finding an economic launch-delivery vehicle.
What’s the Big Idea?
As the energy needs of humanity continue to grow, space-based solar energy could provide limitless amounts of power without the resource limitations or environmental impacts of alternatives like fossil fuels. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and greater scrutiny of the solar industry since the bankruptcy of Solyndra, funding is increasingly difficult to come by. Still, there is hope that if an large initial investment were made, about $10 billion, the technology could later be scaled at a much lower cost.