The Asian giant has announced plans to launch a fleet of solar panels over a kilometer long into space by 2030 and send the energy back to Earth. Reports suggest that once fully operational, around 2050, the space solar power plant will send out a similar amount of electricity as a nuclear power plant.
The basic concept includes a space station with solar panels to convert solar energy into electrical energy. Then a microwave transmitter or laser emitter will be used to send energy to a collector on Earth, where a station will convert microwave energy back into electrical energy.
As part of this ambitious project, Beijing has already started the construction of a test base in the Bishan area of the southwestern city of Chongqing, where they will investigate how to transmit the accumulated energy in the satellites wirelessly. The installation will occupy some 13,3 hectares and will be used to launch between four and six balloons capable of collecting sunlight and transforming it into microwaves before sending it to Earth.
To build an orbiting solar power plant, it will take up to 9 launches of the Chinese-made Changzheng-9 (Long March 35.700) super heavy rocket. The space frame will hang motionless at an altitude of XNUMX kilometers, where constant orbital adjustments are not required.
Having an array of solar panels in geostationary orbit would allow the plant to avoid Earth’s shadow and collect sunlight 24/7.
The project will reportedly start with a prototype test in 2022. Power generation in orbit of one megawatt is scheduled for around 2030. The plant will reach its maximum capacity when it begins receiving gigawatts of power, which will happen around 2050. It is not yet clear how much it will cost to launch or operate the entire space power station.