According to Science and Technology Daily – the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, China is planning to build the world’s first solar power station in space to provide “inexhaustible clean energy”.
Xie Gengxin, the Deputy Head of the Chongqing Collaborative Innovation Research Institute for Civil-Military Integration in China, told the China Daily newspaper that a 33-acre testing facility in Chongqing’s Bishan district is being built, which will be used to test the theoretical viability of a space-based solar power station.
“We plan to launch four to six tethered balloons from the testing base and connect them with each other to set up a network at an altitude of around 1,000 meters,” said Gengxin. “These balloons will collect sunlight and convert solar energy to microwave before beaming it back to Earth. Receiving stations on the ground will convert such microwaves to electricity and distribute it to a grid.”
The team on the project claims to be already testing the technology and intends to build the station by 2050. The initial investment of 100 million Yuan ($15 million) will be made by the Bishan district government and construction could take up to two years, but once it begins operations, scientists and engineers will use tethered balloons equipped with solar panels to verify microwave transmission technologies.
Li Ming, Vice President of the China Academy of Space Technology, is quoted as saying that the country is likely to become the first nation to have a functioning solar power station in space. Other states and regions looking at this technology are Japan, India, and Europe.
Apart from developing solar power stations in space, China is also focused on wind and hydroelectric energy. It has the largest wind resources in the world and aims to have 210 Gigawatts of wind power by 2020.