Photovoltaic power plant near Almeria in South Spain
Photovoltaic power plant near Almeria in South Spain. The photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity. The sun provides us with enough energy every hour to provide the world's energy needs for a year. The challenges are how to capture it cheaply and then develop ways of storing the electricity. Without storage, we can't have electricity when the sun's not shining which isn't much use on a cold, dark night. One answer is to combine solar with other technologies, making it one of a mix of possible solutions. Image: Paul Langrock
© Paul Langrock/Zenit/Greenpeace

Solar power delivered from space! Science fact or science fiction?

We are all aware of the increasing role that renewable energies are playing in our lives and the impact that a continuing reliance on fossil fuels is having on our planet. It has been that said we must "Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative. - H. G. Wells

Solar power has always been tagged as being expensive technology and out of the reach of many, including governments. However, in a recent article on the ABC's Science Website reports that we may have adapted the idea to make it feasible "Harvesting the Sun's energy from space could provide a cost-effective way to meet global power needs in as little as 30 years, says an international scientific group." (Click here to read the full article)

So, is this science fact or science fiction? It is reported in the same article that "Orbiting power plants capable of collecting solar energy and beaming it to Earth appear "technically feasible" within a decade or two based on technologies now in the laboratory, a study group of the Paris-headquartered International Academy of Astronautics reports."

  • Should we look beyond the bounds of our own world for other alternative energy sources?
  • Is it an act of genius or desperation?