Tuesday, August 5, 2014

No. 849: Japanese government supports the development of space photovoltaic generation (August 4, 2014)

The Japanese government will support the research on weight-saving of antenna used for electric transmission in space photovoltaic generation beginning in the next summer. In space photovoltaic generation, a huge solar panel will be installed on an artificial satellite on stationery orbit 36,000 km above the ground. Generated electricity is converted to microwave and transmitted to the ground, and the microwave is converted to power on the ground. In addition to the ability to generate power night and day regardless of weather, space photovoltaic generation does not need large –scale equipment on the ground. The technology will be put into practical use between 2040 and 2050.

In the current technological level, conversion efficiency from electricity to microwave and from microwave to power and transmission of power is very low. It costs more than 1 trillion yen to build facilities for the conversion. To overcome this stalemate, the government plans to reduce the weight of the antenna to less than one hundredth and thickness to about one tenth. At the same time, it wishes to increase the efficiency of the semiconductor used to covert power to electric wave from the present 70% to 80%. It will select companies and research institutes for the project from among the public in this month. It will subsidize about 25 million yen for the three-year project and draw a progress schedule in alliance with Japan Aerospace Exploration Space Agency within this year.  

 Research on space photovoltaic generation is 
advancing steadily.

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