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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Electricity from Orbit?

Martin I. Hoffert, Professor Emeritus of Physics and former Chair of the Department of Applied Science at New York University, discusses the cost-effective space solar power (SSP) -- the beaming abundant high-intensity solar power from space though atmospheric windows at laser or microwave frequencies for electric power at the surface and into a grid. The talk was released the past week as a part of the Google Tech Talks [video].

Dr. Hoffert's talk is based upon the Space-Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security by National Security Space Office Interim Assessment Phase 0 Architecture Feasibility Study, October 10, 2007 [Audio].

For more see the Space Power Association.

1 comment:

Barrie said...

In the 1970s SSPS was seen as the 'killer application' which would pay for space settlement. Today I think the idea is still exciting, but very vulnerable to advances in solar cell cost-effectiveness. SSPS depends on solar cells being expensive. If they are so cheap that night and cloud don't matter, SSPS is dead in the water.

We do seem to get endless announcements of cheaper solar cell breakthroughs which never materialise in the marketplace, so it is easy to get the idea that it is like fusion power - '25 years away, and always will be'.

But solar cell technology is advancing on several fronts - conventional semiconductor and organic, for example - and the risk of significant progress on cost-effectiveness seems high.

What happens to the economics of SSPS when there is a free 5 watt organic solar cell printed on every cornflakes packet? ;-)