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China may build power station in space

2015-03-31 13:31:16Source:People's Daily Online)Author:

To eliminate smog caused by burning fossil fuels, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and solve the energy crisis, experts have suggested that China should build a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. Once realized, this would be the most ambitious space project ever, far exceeding the scale of the Apollo program and the International Space Station.

How big is it?

The solar power station would be very large. The area of its solar panels would reach from 5 to 6 square kilometers, equivalent to the area of about 12 Tiananmen Squares, says Wang Xiji, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "Maybe you would be able to see it in the sky at night, like a star", according to Wang.

Researchers have also proposed that the space station could be square, round, or bowl-shaped.
But why build a power station in space?

Wang says the electricity generated by ground-based solar plants fluctuates as night alternates with day, as well as with the weather, while a space-based generator would collect energy 99 percent of the time.
Generating capacity per area unit of a space-based solar panels would be 9 times more than on the ground, says Duan Baoyan, a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

However, building such a huge power station in the space would not be easy and there are some key technological problems to be solved.

China could build a space station in the next five years, which would bring great opportunities for the development of the solar power station in space, said Li Ming, Vice President of Chinese Academy of Space Technology.

Large-scale structure and assembly technology from the space station would be used for research into the solar power station in space. The key technologies for the power plant could be verified on the space station.

The carrying capacity of Chinese rockets is growing and it is expected that research into a new generation heavy launch vehicle will be carried out, according to Li Ming.

What would a space-based solar power station be like?

The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth.