Will the stars align for space-based solar power?
By John Timmer
The high cost of putting hardware into orbit would seem to rule out space-based solar power on financial grounds, but several companies are betting that technology has changed the equation. Here's how such systems would work.
Although the US has plenty of terrain that's well placed for producing solar power, the intermittent nature of that power and the distances of these sites from major population centers on the east coast puts severe constraints on what we can do with it. Space-based solar power, which can gather energy around the clock and transmit it to most of the populated areas of the planet, provides a way around these limits, one that was already being contemplated before the energy shocks of the 1970s.
Unfortunately, the prohibitive launch costs and challenges of sending the energy back to earth have left matters at the contemplation stage, but with the current focus on renewable energy, several companies are now betting that we'll see hardware in space well before the next decade is over.
Balance of article: ars technica