Japan is planning to harvest solar power from space by 2030, according to a report published on March 19, 2018.
The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) started working on developing technologies for the transmission of electricity wirelessly since 2008. Transmission of energy from orbiting solar panels by 2030 is the main objective of the Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS). The ground demonstration test of wireless power transmission conducted by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) on March 12 was expected to serve as the basis for the SSPS.
In the test, the transmission of 10 kilowatts of electricity was successfully completed using a microwave unit. Power reception was confirmed at a receiver located 500 meters away. LED lights on the receiver confirmed the transmission. This marks a new milestone in transmission distance and power load (enough to power a set of conventional kitchen appliances). The test also confirmed the success of the advanced control system technology that is used to direct the microwave beam so that it stays on target.
The results of this new test is expected to be used in terrestrial applications like the SSPS and will, in the near future, eliminate the need for traditional cable connections. A solar battery in orbit (36,000 kilometers above earth) could generate power which would then be transmitted to earth via microwave/laser, without relying on cables. JAXA anticipates that this new technology could become a mainstay energy source that will simultaneously solve both environmental and energy issues here on Earth.