The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is proposing an energy source that might solve Japan’s lack of fossil fuel resources for years and years to come – if it pans out, because the proposal seems straight out of a sci-fi flick. JAXA wants to launch a series of platforms – armed with huge batches of solar panels – into orbit around the planet to collect solar energy, a space-based solar energy farm.
JAXA’s proposal looks to commercialize space-based energy by collecting them in space and beaming the collected energy to the ground as microwaves. Ground stations would then convert the microwaves into electricity for commercial use. JAXA says that it can actually set this up to be fully functional by 2030, provided that initial work begins on a demonstration by that should be ready by 2020. JAXA researcher Susumu Sasaki says that while the building of the space-based solar energy project would be difficult and the financial outlay immense, the payoff for Japan would be just as huge, having the potential to revolutionize the energy industry.
“If the world embraces space-based solar power, a ring of satellites in orbit could provide nearly unlimited energy, ending the biggest conflicts over Earth’s energy resources,” Sasaki said in a post in JAXA’s blog. “As we place more of the machinery of daily life in space, we’ll begin to create a prosperous and peaceful civilization beyond Earth’s surface,” he added.
As Japan is infamous for its lack of energy resources, it has had to import fossil fuels for thermal energy generation on the back of its nuclear reactors being mothballed. The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami had – apart from the devastation and nuclear disaster that it caused – effects that reached even to Japan’s already struggling economy. Because of the huge amount of fuels being imported for energy generation, Japan’s economy still struggled because of the huge cost – even with the country’s export-based industries doing so well. This move could well help Japan replace nuclear power as its primary source of energy, a major concern because of the massive earthquakes that threaten the country.
[via Venture Beat]