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Japan aims to beam solar energy down from orbit

The Japanese space agency JAXA is developing a revolutionary concept to put “power stations” in orbit to capture sunlight and beam it to Earth.

The country has been looking for new power sources following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011, that destroyed much of the north-east of the country and caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Many of the country’s nuclear reactors were closed due to stricter safety regulations after the emergency. Now JAXA is aiming to set up a Space Solar Power System (SSPS) by 2030. An array of mirrors would sit in geostationary orbit to collect solar energy and then transmits it to a power plant on the ground via microwaves or laser beams. There it could be used to generate electricity and hydrogen.

Proponents of the technology say that it would provide continuous energy without any worry that resources would be depleted. It would be unaffected by the time of day or weather and would provide environmentally friendly, clean energy.
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