The inspired minds at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have succeeded in transmitting solar energy right through the air. Using wireless power transmission may be the best way to gather solar energy from space in order to use it here on Earth.
Using microwave technology, Mitsubishi said it sent ten kilowatts of power wirelessly through the air to a receiver positioned 1,640 feet away. That is enough to power your kitchen stove for an hour or more.
On Friday, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said that it also moved power wirelessly, sending 1.8 kilowatts of power through the air. Japan is looking for ways to expand its ability to power itself, especially since the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011. Japan does not have the vast resources and is not able to fill land with solar collectors, the way larger nations like the United States or Saudi Arabia can, for example.
Instead, Japan has concentrated its efforts on space. “We believe we demonstrated the possibility of commercializing wireless power transmission through our experiment,” Mitsubishi said in a statement on Friday.
One of the great advantages of space-based solar power is the simple fact that solar energy is available all day and night no matter what the weather in space. Commercializing the new technology, though, could take many years—possibly even until the 2040s. Although as the technology becomes more promising, that could change.