New Horizons

Imagine your room heater running on solar energy on a snowy winter night or switching on your light on sun’s energy on the same night when the local electricity grid failed. Yes, now anything is possible and its time you let your imagination run wild.

There is no doubt about the potent that solar energy holds to solve the planet’s energy needs. It is estimated that the amount of solar energy that the earth’s surface receives is 8000 times more than that of our current energy requirement. As a matter of fact, World’s energy starvation would end if we cover less than 1% of the earth’s surface with solar panels.

So why aren’t we doing it? For one simple reason; solar power is unreliable. Seasonal changes, fluctuating weather conditions and the day-night cycle; each of which implies that solar farms on the surface can never attain the optimum efficiency. Moreover, the areas which are receiving the maximum sunlight consistently throughout the year are least densely populated and it’s not feasible to transport solar energy from deserts to more populated regions.

This may change in the near future. A former NASA engineer has come up with a brainy quick fix to the problems. John Mankins, former head of advanced concepts studies at NASA has come up with an intriguing concept of “SPS-ALPHA” (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array). The concept integrates a thousand computers working together in high orbit and capturing sunrays which can then be transmitted back to the earth’s surface to be used as energy.

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The most impressive part of the concept is that, it explores new horizons by storing energy initially and later channelling it to desired locations. This feature would help remote and energy deprived and those suffering from any natural calamity.

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