A tower was built in China: it will be able to capture solar energy directly from space

The tower has become the world's first solar power verification system that is able to perform and test all

stages of collection and transmission of solar energy fromspace. This terrestrial system, whose construction began back in 2018, was designed to conduct research on “high-efficiency light concentration and photoelectric conversion, microwave conversion, microwave radiation, as well as waveform optimization, microwave beam guidance measurement and control, microwave reception and rectification, radiation."

The upper part of the tower structure consists ofarrays of suspended saucers that act as a surrogate satellite, focusing sunlight, converting it into energy, and sending it back to Earth, where it is collected by a rectenna dish.

Tower for receiving energy from space

According to a press release from Xidian University, experts have already evaluated a demonstration of microwave power transmission over a distance of 55 meters.

The research team has no illusions:to increase the transmission distance from 55 m to 36,000 km (which is the distance from Earth that satellites are) with high enough efficiency to make space solar energy useful, "it will require a successive struggle of several generations." Indeed, today, if a space-based power transmission antenna is deployed, a ground-based array of rectennas would likely need to be several kilometers wide to receive a usable amount of power.

Note that, according to some estimates, solara panel placed in space would generate 6 to 8 times more energy than here on Earth. However, there is a problem of returning energy to the Earth, since the geosynchronous orbit, in which the satellite is more or less directly above one point on the Earth, is located at an altitude of 36,000 km. That's almost three times the width of the Earth and a little further than most extension cords can reach.

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