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Japanese project: satellites in orbit to harvest solar energy

Japanese project: satellites in orbit to harvest solar energy

Japan hopes to soon be able to put satellites into orbit capable of transmitting energy collected by solar panels back to Earth. The first experiment should take place in 2025.

The country’s authorities and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have long been working on the idea of ​​being able to harvest solar energy from space. According to Nikkei Asia, an experiment from 2025, headed by a professor from Kyoto University, who specializes in solar energy, will be attempted in space.

The goal is to start deploying small satellites in orbit, at an altitude of 36,000 km, with the aim of transmitting the collected solar energy to Earth through its panels. This is actually converted into microwaves which are sent to receiving stations on the ground and then converted into electricity. The advantage of these microwaves is that they can easily pass through clouds and any disturbance.

The main interest of this technology is that it represents in principle an unlimited source of renewable energy, since solar panels in space can collect energy at any time of the day, as it is more difficult on Earth when the weather is bad, for example.

However, the results in terms of production don’t have to be amazing, at least at first. It has already been calculated that to produce the equivalent in electricity of a nuclear reactor, it would be necessary to use an area of ​​about 4 km2 The solar panels, which would represent a massive investment, are estimated at 1,000 billion yen, or roughly seven billion euros.

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Note that the Chinese and Americans are also working on this type of technology and that Japan hopes to have the upper hand over these two countries in managing solar energy from space.