The idea of collecting solar energy out beyond Earth’s atmosphere and then beaming it to receivers on the ground has been around for years; experiments have shown the concept is feasible.

Whether it’s practical is another question. Transmitters in space and receiver dishes on Earth would need to be more than a mile in diameter, according to calculations—and what would happen to birds or aircraft that happen to fly through the vast beams?

Emrod, a New Zealand company, is one of the R&D ventures working up the tech to make it happen and has just successfully demonstrated its hardware to Airbus and the European Space Agency.

But Emrod has a much more elaborate plan in mind: building a “wireless global energy matrix” of low orbiting satellites able to beam energy anywhere in the world, all day and all night, all the time.

In the plan, satellites in geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles into the heavens would beam energy down to Earth-based receivers. The receivers then would bounce the energy back up to a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that would relay the energy around the network.

The massive solar farms already operating in the U.S. western deserts and similar locales on other continents also could beam their bounty up into the network.

By 2040, the worldwide network could be operating at better than 80-percent energy efficiency, Emrod estimates.

TRENDPOST: A century ago, pioneering electricity genius Nikola Tesla proposed a wireless worldwide power network to legendary financier J.P. Morgan, who responded, “But where would we put the meter?”

However, financial and political interests opposing a global wireless energy network will be a second-order problem compared to engineering the system, funding its construction, and accustoming the public to living among “power beams from space.”

In addition, the lanes in which satellites orbit have become floating junkyards, with hundreds of millions of bolts, cladding, and defunct units playing dodge ‘em at 17,000 miles an hour, as we documented in “Space Force” of Garbage Trucks Needed (4 May 2021). 

Into that chaos, Elon Musk’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and other firms have begun launching thousands of small satellites to swaddle the world in Internet access.

The notion of space-based solar power will get more play in the future but, even if it proves technically and financially practical, no “wireless global energy matrix” will be deployed until at least 2050 and probably later, and not before the problem of bumper-to-bumper space junk is controlled.

Artist’s concept of how Emrod’s wireless global power network might appear.

Credit: Emrod
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