TechJapan's quest for energy independence: space photovoltaics to revolutionize renewable energy

Japan's quest for energy independence: space photovoltaics to revolutionize renewable energy

Illustrative photo - Photovoltaic panel at the ISS station
Illustrative photo - Photovoltaic panel at the ISS station
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons, NASA

7:33 AM EST, January 12, 2024

Renewable energy sources uphold more than just ecological importance. They also represent safety and energy independence and offer financial advantages. During these times of escalating climate change, the search for alternative and efficient energy sources remains a constant priority.

Japan is paving the way in space photovoltaic research

JAXA, the space agency, has been developing technology to transmit energy from space to our planet for several decades.

The concept was first proposed in 1969 by an American physicist who wished to station solar panels at 22,370 miles.

The physicist theorized that transforming solar energy into microwaves that penetrate clouds would guarantee a constant energy supply, irrespective of the day's weather conditions.

Japan has been a trailblazer in electrical energy research since the 1980s. Tests are scheduled for 2025 to transmit energy from satellites to receiving stations hundreds of miles away.

China is entering the field of exploration, too. At Xidian University, microwaves have successfully been transmitted over a distance of 55 m.

The European Space Agency (ESA) intends to achieve total energy autonomy for Europe by 2050. They plan to conduct initial space tests on photovoltaics and aim to place the first solar panels in orbit by 2025.

However, these ambitions carry hefty price tags. Experts estimate that production costs for roughly 1 gigawatt of energy in this fashion could surpass around $8 billion.

See also