Solar Power from Outer Space: Microwaves and Frickin’ Lasers

In order to meet our world’s rising energy needs, and to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, some ideas that seem right out of a science fiction novel are picking up steam with start-ups and investors. But does using satellites for energy production really make sense financially or environmentally?

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) is an idea first voiced by scientist Dr. Peter Glaser over 40 years ago, and during times of high energy costs or crises in fossil fuel supplies, the idea keeps rearing its head. The premise is that large photovoltaic arrays can be assembled in a geosynchronous orbit at 22,000 miles above the Earth, generating electricity that can then be transmitted via microwave or lasers to Earth.

On the positive side of SBSP, power can be produced 24 hours a day, regardless of the time of year, and…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knocked Down But Not Out: America Could Be Global Solar Leader by 2014

A new report reveals that America’s solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has gotten battered since the economy hit the skids last year.

But not to fret. A boost in federal incentives could trigger a rapid sector rebound and ultimately global solar leadership by 2014.

According to cleantech market researcher Pike Research, “The United States has become one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies.” But here’s the problem:

“At the federal level tax credits and depreciation incentives are not currently enough to encourage sustainable demand growth.”

Washington’s latest boost in clean energy subsidies, in other words, is just not cutting it with investors, not in the face of this financial crisis.

“Financing for solar projects remains elusive,” says the forecast, U.S. Solar Energy Demand Dynamics.

The report find that solar demand in the U.S. lags behind market leaders Spain and Germany in 2009 — despite fizzling subsidies and slow starts to the year in both those nations. In America, project cancellations and delays are also…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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MIT preparing to unleash solar power revolution

A new revolution in solar power is set to bring energy from the sun into the night. A major barrier to large-scale solar power is having a way to store the sun’s energy so that it can be used at night or when skies are cloudy.

Solar power has historically been restricted to being a daytime source of energy as conventional photovoltaic solar panels produce energy only when the sun is shining. Storing solar energy for use at night has been expensive and inefficient. However, the Massachussettes Institute of Technology, or MIT, has announced that they have developed a simple, inexpensive, and very efficient solar energy storage process.

“This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said MIT’s Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. “Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power…Read More.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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