Mitsubishi space-based solar power generation progresses

15 March 2015 (Last Updated March 15th, 2015 18:30)

Researchers at Mitsubishi in Japan have successfully transmitted energy wirelessly, opening up the possibility for space-based solar power systems.

Mitsubishi Space Solar

Researchers at Mitsubishi in Japan have successfully transmitted energy wirelessly, opening up the possibility for space-based solar power systems.

Researchers working for the 2012 Solar Power Wireless Transmission Technology Development Project used microwaves to deliver through the air 1.8kW of power, which is sufficient to run an electric kettle.

The transmission was carried out with pin-point accuracy to a receiver placed 55m (170ft) away.

In spite of the initial small distance, the technology is expected to help tap the vast amount of solar energy in space, which could present an inexhaustible renewable resource in the future.

A Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) spokesperson was quoted by Daily Mail UK as saying: "This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly 2kW of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device."

"The technology is expected to help tap the vast amount of solar energy in space, which could present an inexhaustible renewable resource."

Tests for the energy transmission were conducted at Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Nagoya, Japan.

The positive results are expected to help Jaxa proceed with its long-planned construction of a space solar power system.

Ground demonstration testing for the long-distance, wireless power transmission was based on an agreement with Japan Space Systems.

Japan Space Systems is an organisational set-up under the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which supervised the 2012 Solar Power Wireless Transmission Technology Development Project.

Japan currently depends on fossil fuels for its energy requirements. The country has had to take substantial imports of fossil fuels subsequent to the nuclear shutdowns after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.


Image: Mitsubushi researchers succesfully transmit power wirelessly into space. Photo: courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.