A scoop over at Ray Kurzweil's site indicates a 1960s' concept for cheap limitless power is coming back in fashion and may be technically feasible in 10 to 20 years. (Thanks to -S.) This is coming out today in a report from the International Academy of Astronautics. Amara D. Angelica reports on Space-based Solar Power, which involves placing solar collectors in Earth's orbit and then transmitting the energy wirelessly to Earth:
On Monday, the National Space Society (NSS) will present findings from an eye-opening new report by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). You’re hearing about this here first. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the NSS board of directors.) ...
In 2002, Dr. Martin Hoffert, Professor Emeritus of Physics, New York University, proposed a radical solution to what appears to be a serious coming energy shortfall (Science, 2002): space solar power (SSP) — collect energy from space and transmit it wirelessly anywhere in the world.
The basic concept, invented in the late 60s by Dr. Peter Glaser of Arthur D. Little: a large platform, positioned in space in a high Earth orbit continuously collects and converts solar energy into electricity. This power is then used to drive a wireless power transmission system that transmits the solar energy to receivers on Earth. Because of its immunity to nighttime, to weather or to the changing seasons, the SPS concept. has the potential to achieve much greater energy efficiency than ground based solar power systems.
There are significant advantages to SSP compared to ground solar power, according to an NSS statement: solar energy in space is seven times greater per unit area than on the ground, and the collection of solar space energy is not disrupted by nightfall and inclement weather, avoiding the need for expensive energy storage. And it’s especially valuable for isolated areas of the world (parts of Africa and India, for example.)