Step 2: Our Model Space Harvesting
Our model consists of ‘satellite’, which emits a laser, and a solar cell, placed on ‘earth’, designed absorbs the energy from that laser. This model demonstrates the concept of energy harvesting from space. The world today relies heavily on oil to fulfill its energy requirements; however, oil will not last long enough to sustain us for long. The US Department of Energy in the Hirsch report indicates that “The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past “energy crisis” experience will provide relatively little guidance.” Moreover, the increasing demand for energy all over the world does not make the situation any better. Therefore scientists have proposed many radical solutions.
One of the proposed solutions is to place an array of solar panels in space and beam the energy generated down to earth by means of microwaves or lasers. Such a system has many benefits:
- Higher collection rate: In space, transmission of solar energy is unaffected by the filtering effects of atmospheric gasses. Consequently, collection in orbit is approximately 144% of the maximum attainable on Earth's surface.
- Longer collection period: Orbiting satellites can be exposed to a consistently high degree of solar radiation, generally for 24 hours per day, whereas surface panels can collect for 12 hours per day at most.
- Elimination of weather concerns, since the collecting satellite would reside well outside of any atmospheric gasses, cloud cover, wind, and other weather events.
- Elimination of plant and wildlife interference.
- Re-directable power transmission: A collecting satellite could possibly direct power on demand to different surface locations based on geographical baseload or peak load power needs.