Role photo voltaic energy venture obtained off the bottom with billionaire’s $100 million donation

Role photo voltaic energy venture obtained off the bottom with billionaire’s $100 million donation

Space-based solar power could be a clean and efficient solution to the problem of humanity's growing energy needs, advocates say.

Role-primarily based mostly photo voltaic energy in overall is a smooth and efficient resolution to the topic of humanity’s rising energy needs, advocates bid.
(Image credit: NASA)

Now not each and every billionaire who’s attracted to home is constructing rockets.

You can well maybe also possess absolutely heard of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, whose companies possess all launched of us to the closing frontier these days. However you might well maybe maybe also now not be taught about Yuri Milner, the Russian-born tech investor who’s placing a entire bunch of millions of bucks toward the be taught about for alien lifestyles. Or Donald Bren, who might well well possess helped seed an off-Earth energy revolution.

In 2013, the California Institute of Know-how (Caltech) in Pasadena established the Role-primarily based mostly Solar Energy Mission (SSPP), which is rising hardware to harvest photo voltaic energy in orbit and beam it to Earth for utilize down right here.

Linked: Solar energy stations in home is also the reply to our energy needs

Such tech, if fully realized and implemented on a dapper scale, would be sport-altering, venture crew people stated.

“Solar energy is the world’s most ample energy handy resource,” SSPP researcher Harry Atwater, a professor of applied physics and materials science at Caltech, stated in an announcement

“However, sunlight is intermittent at the earth’s ground,” Atwater stated. “This heroic venture is a transformative solution to dapper-scale photo voltaic energy harvesting for the Earth that overcomes this intermittency and the need for energy storage, since sunlight shines consistently in home.”

The SSPP obtained up and working practically a decade in the past thanks to an anonymous donation of additional than $100 million. On Tuesday (Aug. 3), Caltech announced where the money came from — Bren and his companion, Brigitte. 

“I if fact be told possess been a pupil researching the doable applications of home-primarily based mostly photo voltaic energy for a few years,” Bren, an exact estate rich one who chairs the Irvine Co. and is a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, stated in the the same commentary. “My interest in supporting the world-class scientists at Caltech is pushed by my belief in harnessing the natural energy of the solar for the good thing about every person.”

The Brens have not any monetary stake in the SSPP or any skills that it develops, venture crew people stated.

“It presentations the magnitude of the generosity,” SSPP co-director Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering and clinical engineering at Caltech, stated in the the same commentary, which the college posted on Tuesday. “They if fact be told would like to commerce the world and if fact be told detect this as an different to originate an enduring distinction for the planet, whereas producing a mountainous vary of modern technologies with affect in many areas equivalent to wi-fi energy, communications and sensing.”

From left: Space-Based Solar Power Project (SSPP) co-director Sergio Pellegrino; Brigitte and Donald Bren; SSPP co-director Ali Hajimiri; and SSPP project manager Richard Madonna. The Brens’ donation of more than $100 million enabled the formation of the SSPP in 2013.

(Image credit: Caltech)

The SSPP has developed skills-demonstrating prototypes that convert sunlight to radio-frequency microwave energy, then transmit this usable energy wirelessly in a steerable beam. The venture plans to invent its first home take a look at of such gear in early 2023, Caltech representatives stated in the commentary.

The Caltech community is rarely for all time the handiest one attempting to glean home-primarily based mostly photo voltaic energy up and working. As an instance, the U.S. Air Power plans to commence a energy-beaming experiment to orbit in 2024. And the Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module Flight Experiment (PRAM-FX) is already zooming around Earth aboard the U.S. Role Power’s robotic X-37B home airplane.

PRAM-FX, which turned into developed by the U.S. Naval Learn Laboratory, is a 12-run-huge (30.5 centimeters) square tile designed to harvest photo voltaic energy and convert it to microwave energy, permitting researchers to gauge the effectivity of that task. 

This most as a lot as the moment mission of the X-37B, the sixth for the home airplane program overall, launched in May well maybe 2020. It is unclear when the winged car will approach down; crucial aspects of X-37B missions, alongside side the identification and honest of most of its payloads, are inclined to be labeled.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Gargantuan Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the be taught about for alien lifestyles. Snarl him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Snarl us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Fb. 

Mike Wall

SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Role.com since 2010. His book about the be taught about for alien lifestyles, “Out There,” turned into printed on Nov. 13, 2018. Earlier than changing exact into a science author, Michael labored as a herpetologist and flowers and fauna biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To discover what his most as a lot as the moment venture is, you might well maybe maybe also practice Michael on Twitter. 

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