Huffington Post UK - By Chris York Posted: 27/08/2013 08:59 BST
Nasa are developing a giant solar-powered microwave satellite that could provide a third of all our energy needs.
The Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array (SPS-ALPHA) is a tulip-shaped array of thousands of curved mirrors that would focus sunlight onto photovaltic panels.
These convert the sunlight to microwaves which could be beamed to a receiver station on Earth.
Each of the pieces would be able to communicate with each other to maximise efficiency
Dr John Mankins has been commissioned by Nasa to test the plot's viability.
He said: "If successful, this project will make possible the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver remotely and affordably 10s to 1000s of megawatts using wireless power transmission to markets on Earth and missions in space"
In an interview with Motherboard, he added: "A single solar power satellite would deliver power to on the order of a third of humanity—not all at the same time, but any of that market could, in principle, be addressed."
The idea of a space-based power supply is not new but only recently has technology made such a prospect viable.
Solar panels have vastly increased in efficiency while coming down in price at the same time.
Using a satellite in space to collect energy has two major advantages.
Firstly, the strength of the sun's rays is far stronger than here on Earth and secondly, collection is not dependent on the weather.