NASA TM-2004-212743

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NASA TM-2004-212743 - "Reinventing the Solar Power Satellite" and "Peak Power Markets for Satellite Solar Power" from the Houston IAF Congress (International Astronautical Federation). Author: Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis

This report analyses a new approach to the design of Solar Power Satellites ("SPS"), intended to make the initial investments lower, allow the power to be sold at higher price, and increase the synergy with terrestrial solar energy production.

Dr. Geoffrey A. Landis analyzes the economics, noting that SPS power can be sold into different markets at different times of the day as the demand curve changes, by selective beaming.

My comment: Terrestrial PV are limited to daylight with relatively clear skies, unless expnsive storage systems are used, or very long distance grid transmission is employed (also expensive).

Some quotes from the Landis paper:

Synergy With Terrestrial Solar

Space and Ground Solar Power Analyses of space solar power often assume that ground solar power is a competing technology, and show that space solar power is a preferable technology on a rate of return basis. In fact, however, space solar power and ground solar power are complementary technologies, not competing technologies. These considerations were initially discussed in 1990 [4]. Low-cost ground solar power is a necessary precursor to space solar power: Space solar power requires low cost, high production and high efficiency solar arrays, and these technologies will make ground solar attractive for many markets. The ground solar power market, in turn, will serve develop technology and the high-volume production readiness for space solar power.

Since ground solar is a necessary precursor to space solar power, ananalysis of space solar power should consider how it interfaces with the ground-based solar infrastructure that will be developing on a faster scale than the space infrastructure. Some possible ways that this interface could be optimized include:

1. Integrate solar and microwave receivers on ground. This will allow the space solar power to use the pre-existing land that has already been amortized by ground solar power receivers, and tie in to power conditioning and distribution networks that are already in place.

2. Use solar power satellites to beam to receivers when ground solar is unavailable. By "filling in" power when ground solar is unavailable, space solar power will serve as the complement to solar.

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See Also

Solar Power Solar Power Satellites