China shows space solar power plants works

A research team at Xidian University in China announced it has successfully tested technology that would enable a space-based solar power plant that could transmit energy to Earth, akin to similar technology earlier announced by NASA and studied by other groups over the past decade.

The “Daily Project” team, led by Duan Baoyan of Xidian University in Shaanxi province, released a statement on June 14 that said the group has set a target of 2028 to have a solar power plant in space. The project is part of OMEGA, or Orb-Shape Membrane Energy Gathering Array, a space-based proposal for solar power that was first announced in 2014. The research team at that time had set a 2030 goal for deployment of the system.

The research team in a news release said it recently conducted tests in front of several outside energy experts and academics, who verified the successful test on June 5.

https://www.powermag.com/china-group-announces-successful-te…

Jaak

1 Like

Interesting concept but I’m wondering if there might be any unintended consequences.

I have no knowledge, experience or awareness of the technologies involved.

They will beam the energy to a receiver on the ground.

The beam presumably is ‘energy’ and might that energy heat up molecules on its path to the ground? Sort of like a lightning strike, which super-heats the air for an instant. Might not a continuous beam like this warm the atmosphere?

I’ll make use of my favorite phrase: “I don’t know; I’m just asking a question!”

I’m avoiding the ‘death ray from the sky’ unintended consequences.

JimA

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The beam presumably is ‘energy’ and might that energy heat up molecules on its path to the ground?

Choose the correct wavelength for this energy and the problem is entirely solved.

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While I have no doubt you are probably correct; could you elaborate on that? What energetic wavelength would not heat the air thru which it passes. Is that also the most efficient wavelength to get the most energy to ground level? Because you know that is what would get chosen.

JimA

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could you elaborate on that?

Sure. Does your microwave oven heat the air inside it? (answer: it does not)

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Does your microwave oven heat the air inside it? (answer: it does not)

It does to the extent that the air has moisture in it. We know that the (lower) atmosphere also contains water molecules.

DB2

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What energetic wavelength would not heat the air thru which it passes. Is that also the most efficient wavelength to get the most energy to ground level?

I’m cynical enough to look at this in a different way. You guys are assuming use as an energy source, I’m assuming potential weapon. In war, it is always best to have the high ground.

Personally I’d opt for the Rods of God.

https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/these-air-force-rods…

JLC

1 Like

Solar power from space in part is designed to eliminate a limiting factor of the technology, as putting panels in space enables a solar array to evade cloudy conditions and the shadow of the Earth. Along with researchers in China and the U.S., other countries—including Japan, the UK, Russia, India, and France—are studying space-based solar arrays. The researchers at Xidian acknowledged that individual components of space-based solar power systems have been previously tested, but said their group is the first to successfully test a full-system model.

Jaak

Japan’s Efforts
“At present, in the development roadmap of many technologically powerful countries, Japan has come from behind and has become one of the most cutting-edge researchers in the world,” the Xidian group said. “They were the first in the world to formally include space solar power plants in the national space program, and they also proposed a unique concept of distributed tethered solar power plants, and formulated a three-stage long-term development roadmap of ‘research-development-commercial.’ In 2015, Japanese researchers carried out a microwave wireless energy transfer experiment with a distance of 55 meters, and verified the transmission based on the 5.8 GHz frequency, solid-state source and phased array system, with a transmission efficiency of 9.88% … in terms of microwave wireless energy transmission technology temporarily leading the world.

Jaak

"with a transmission efficiency of 9.88% "

That seems a very poor efficiency - does the lost energy not impact the atmosphere it is passing through? What happens with the lost energy?

JimA

1 Like

<Could you elaborate on that? What energetic wavelength would not heat the air thru which it passes. >
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth

By mole fraction (i.e., by number of molecules), dry air contains 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1% at sea level, and 0.4% over the entire atmosphere. Each of these absorb energy at specific wavelengths. They are transparent to other wavelengths.

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/RemoteSensing/rem…

Some types of electromagnetic radiation easily pass through the atmosphere, while other types do not. The ability of the atmosphere to allow radiation to pass through it is referred to as its transmissivity, and varies with the wavelength/type of the radiation. The gases that comprise our atmosphere absorb radiation in certain wavelengths while allowing radiation with differing wavelengths to pass through.

There are areas of the electromagnetic spectrum where the atmosphere is transparent (little or no absorption of radiation) to specific wavelengths. These wavelength bands are known as atmospheric “windows” since they allow the radiation to easily pass through the atmosphere to Earth’s surface.

In the microwave region most radiation moves through unimpeded.

It should be quite simple to tune the energy beam to a wavelength that isn’t absorbed by any component of the atmosphere. It would be aimed at a receiver which was designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy at that specific wavelength.

https://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/atm-absorption…

Wendy

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This is exciting news. It’s a far more practical investment than the orbiting space station which hasn’t produced anything useful.

Wendy

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WendyBG explains,

In the microwave region most radiation moves through unimpeded.

It should be quite simple to tune the energy beam to a wavelength that isn’t absorbed by any component of the atmosphere. It would be aimed at a receiver which was designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy at that specific wavelength.

I find it hard to believe that the Chinese are the only ones with this insight.

I wonder if this kind of research in the US is being stymied by the fossil fuel lobby? Anything based on solar or fusion is going to be a threat to the ruling oligarchy.

America thrives on corruption.

intercst

3 Likes

It should be quite simple to tune the energy beam to a wavelength that isn’t absorbed by any component of the atmosphere. It would be aimed at a receiver which was designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy at that specific wavelength.

All well & good - however, the initial experiment only achieved 10% efficiency - where did the other 90% of the energy go? Even at 90% - something is happening with the remaining 10%; what?

JimA

2 Likes

All well & good - however, the initial experiment only achieved 10% efficiency - where did the other 90% of the energy go? Even at 90% - something is happening with the remaining 10%; what?

There’s always going to be signal loss in microwave transmissions. Presumably a solar satellite in low-Earth orbit is at least 100 miles from the “energy beam” ground station target.

It’s not uncommon for me to only get 3-bars from the cellphone tower 2200 feet from my home.

intercst

There’s always going to be signal loss in microwave transmissions. Presumably a solar satellite in low-Earth orbit is at least 100 miles from the “energy beam” ground station target.

The article said geostationary orbit which is on the order of 25,000 miles from the surface (Google will know for sure). I would image that the microwaves are plenty scattered over that distance.

While I have no doubt you are probably correct; could you elaborate on that? What energetic wavelength would not heat the air thru which it passes.

Any wavelength that is not absorbed by any of the major greenhouse gases in our atmosphere - primarily water vapor, secondarily CO2, a few others matter - or by liquid water (clouds)

Is that also the most efficient wavelength to get the most energy to ground level?

By definition, yes. The greatest loss in getting the energy from satellites to the ground is going to be atmospheric absorption. Less atmospheric absorption means less atmospheric heating - they are different sides of the same coin.

Whether it’s also a great choice for capturing that energy via a collector once it gets to ground level…

where did the other 90% of the energy go?

AGW! No denying that the warming was caused by humans!

If you are worried about global warming, the good thing about capturing sunlight at ground level is that it does not add energy to the Earth as importing extra sun beams does.

The Captain

All well & good - however, the initial experiment only achieved 10% efficiency - where did the other 90% of the energy go? Even at 90% - something is happening with the remaining 10%; what?

JimA

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That was the Japanese effort - not the Chinese test.

Jaak

I find it hard to believe that the Chinese are the only ones with this insight.

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Scientists and engineers aroun the world have known about this concept and have been working on this for more than 10 years.

Here is a repeat of my post up thread:

Solar power from space in part is designed to eliminate a limiting factor of the technology, as putting panels in space enables a solar array to evade cloudy conditions and the shadow of the Earth. Along with researchers in China and the U.S., other countries—including Japan, the UK, Russia, India, and France—are studying space-based solar arrays. The researchers at Xidian acknowledged that individual components of space-based solar power systems have been previously tested, but said their group is the first to successfully test a full-system model.

Jaak