Japan to Harvest Energy From the Sun Via Solar Space Station

Japan Sustainability
by Juliane Huang Nov 11, 2009


Japan plans to beam pure solar energy down from space to power the country in less than 50 years.

Perpetually with one foot in the future, Japan recently brought on board a team of companies and researchers for what has got to be the most astro-ambitious project of the 21st century: the Space Solar Power System (SSPS).

The SSPS project, which Japan hopes to become fully realized as soon as 2030, will put into orbit giant solar panels just outside Earth’s atmosphere to gather the sun’s energy and beam it down to us in the form of lasers or microwaves. In the absence of clouds or that pesky ozone layer, solar energy can be over five times stronger in space than on Earth and according to the report from PhysOrg, Japan has been dead serious about this project since 1998.

Just a svelte island floating in the eastern Pacific, Japan depends on oil imports to run much of its machinery. If SSPS becomes a reality, Japan estimates the electricity produced will be six times cheaper than current in-country costs. “We’re aiming to produce stable, cheap power and hydrogen at a target price of 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour,” research scientist Hiroaki Suzuki was quoted saying in the Scientific American.

But powerful lasers beaming down from space don’t exactly inspire confidence in the court of public opinion and the very twilight zone nature of the SSPS project has got all the science and technology blogs aflutter. Tonic admits that the plan “sounds so very far-flung and fanciful,” while Tech.Blorge refers to it as “as a nod to science fiction.”

And while Matador is committed to greener living (hey, we sent one of our MatadorU students to take on the No Impact Week Challenge), we’re reserving opinion until the 2020 test launch.

Around this time last year, Matador published this article about US commitment to renewable energy, though it is clear that, much like as with cell phones and robot girlfriends, the Japanese have outpaced all others once again.

What do you think about a giant laser beaming super concentrated solar energy down from outer space? Share your thoughts with us!

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