The sun beams more solar energy onto Earth per hour than humans can use in a year. 30% of that energy reflects back into space. The Air Force Research Lab is working to transform space-based solar power into a usable energy source for national defense and the general public by 2025.
- Andrew Williams, deputy technology executive officer for Space Science & Technology at the Air Force Research Lab, said this involves putting a large, deployable structure on orbit to convert the sun’s energy to electricity, converting it to radio frequency energy and beaming it to an antenna on the ground.
- Williams said the conversion efficiency is currently low, around 2-5%, and they are aiming for around 15%.
- He said his organization has made significant improvements to the deployable structures technology and said launch cost reductions have contributed to the progress.