Power Transfer Moves Towards Space-Based Energy Harvesting

Japan is resource-poor, so for many years has been investing in research for alternative energy sources other than fossil fuels. The latest breakthrough comes from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which hopes to capture solar energy in space and beam it to Earth.

Microwave-transmitting satellites, orbiting 22,300 miles from the Earth, would have solar energy panels.

A breakthrough was accomplished this month, when researchers used microwaves to send 1.8kW of power 55m through the air. It is enough power to operate an electric kettle.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device”, said a spokesman.

Harvesting solar power in space, rather than on Earth, means that the energy is permanently available, unaffected by weather or the time of day. Satellites already collect energy, but are unable to transfer it back to Earth.