Researchers at the California Institutes of Technology have already demonstrated that power transmission from space is possible. But the amount of energy is still far from enough. Nevertheless, solar systems in space are getting closer and closer.

Ideally, the energy supply of the future will be emission-free. But solar power plants on Earth have a crucial disadvantage. Because of the rather low efficiency and the distance to the sun, there are sometimes high energy losses. Solar systems in space that send electricity to Earth could solve several problems.

Researchers at the California Institutes of Technology recently made significant progress with a specialized satellite called Maple. The satellite has several chips for generating microwaves and managed to send energy from space to Earth. Although the amount of energy transferred is currently small, the experiment demonstrates the potential of the technology.

Solar systems in space: Maple sends 100 milliwatts of electricity from space

According to researcher Ali Hajimiri, the first solar array in space could be operational within the next decade. The successful test of Maple marks a first step in this direction. Theoretically, Maple could send 100 milliwatts of power through space. However, so far only one milliwatt has reached the ground.

This is still not enough for practical use. However, in order to ensure an effective energy supply on Earth, such a system would have to do considerably more. To provide enough electricity for tens of thousands of homes, it requires a satellite about one square kilometer in size. Maple currently measures only 150 square centimeters.

Power plants in space offer many advantages

Despite the challenges such as the size and weight of such structures, Hajimiri is confident. It is therefore only a matter of time before these hurdles are overcome. Finally, solar systems in space offer several advantages over terrestrial solar systems. For example, they could produce energy around the clock because there are no clouds and no day-night rhythm in space.

Continuous energy production in space could make a decisive contribution to sustainable energy supply on Earth in the future. Despite the many technical and economic challenges, Maple shows the potential of space-based solar power plants. The electricity of the future could soon no longer just come from the earth.

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