Chapter 2 will introduce you to a California company that wants to go where no power plant has gone before – space. Solar photovoltaic technology has been used for decades to power satellites, but Gary Spirnak wants to take an idea first proposed by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941 and – in the words of next-gen Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard – make it so. A square kilometer solar collector would be launched into orbit about 36,000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, clear of clouds and facing the sun 24-hours a day. The energy collected would be beamed by microwave down to a massive receiving station in the middle of a desert, converted into electricity and put on the power grid. Seems crazy, I’ll admit. Spirnak, founder of Solaren Space, admits it’s an enormous endeavor that invites ridicule, but as an engineer and veteran of the U.S. space industry he is convinced it can be done economically with current technology.
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