Space-Based Solar Technology Feasible Within 30 Years

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An international group of scientists says space-based solar plants could help meet the world’s energy needs within 30 years if governments are willing to provide the early funding.

Space-based solar technology, in which satellites are launched into space to collect the Sun’s energy and beam it back to Earth, could be “technically feasible” within two decades, according to the new study by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

But, while the study does not offer a cost estimate for such a project, it suggests that the development and deployment would likely cost tens of billions of dollars. Since the private sector would be unlikely to invest in an unproven technology on its own, the IAA says governments should take the lead in showing that it is an economically viable solution to meeting the world’s energy needs.

While skeptics say the technology is not feasible — in large part because of the high costs involved — the study contends the economic case has improved in recent years, largely as a result of increased government incentives for green energy.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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