China Planning To Build Solar Power Station In Space

Chinese engineers seem to be getting their new mega-project ideas from Isaac Asimov's books. According to China plans to build huge space solar power station - The Economic Times, China is planning to build a mega solar power station at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers above the ground to cut the smog and greenhouse gases while solving the energy problem. If China manages to build the power station of the scale it's planning; it will be bigger engineering project than the entire Apollo Program and even the International Space Station.

The original idea of the project was floated by Asimov in his 1941 fiction titled 'Reason' in which the space station collects and transmits the solar energy back to the Earth using microwave beams. Wang Xiji an academician from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has said that Asimov's fictional work always had a scientific base. Wang has dedicated nearly five decades of his life to space technology research and says that the project would be really huge with each solar panel reaching about 5-6; about 12x the the size of Tian'anmen Square in Beijing. People would be able to see the power station in the Sky with naked eyes at the night like a star.


The Space Based Solar Power Plants To Become Reality would cut on the fluctuations in collection of solar energy on the Earth because of day and night. The space power station would be able to collect solar energy with 99% of the time and also generate 10x more electricity per unit area as compared to ground-based panels. Wang firmly believes that the solar based power station would be able to solve the energy crisis on the Earth.

The main challenge in realisation of the project would be deployment of the solar panels in space. Setting up a 10,000 tons of infrastructure in space would required several hundred trips from rockets. While Wang is quite optimistic about space power technology, we'd love to collect ideas from our fellow crazy engineers whether they see future in it. We look forward to your views and opinions.


  • Ramani Aswath
    Ramani Aswath
    Generating the power is a cinch. Beaming it down is the nub. Geostationary mechanism, energy density (and associated hazards) of the microwave beam, orienting the beam, reception and conversion are major techno challenges. Still, a monumental concept.
  • Ankita Katdare
    Ankita Katdare
    Out of curiosity, I googled about the list of solar power stations in the world and found that Spain has the most of them, with more than 25 fully operational power plants set up.
    The 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, located in California's Mojave Desert, is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant project currently in operation.
    In India too many solar power plants have been commissioned since 2011, majorly in Gujarat and Odisha, followed by Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, but only a couple of them are operational till date.

    I guess the major problem lies in the availability of land.
    Dedication of land area for exclusive installation of solar arrays might have to compete with other necessities that require land.
    As per wikipedia, We need 250 acres for every 20–60 MW generated. That's huge!

    Looks like from where China is headed right now, most other countries might have to follow suit. 😲😒👀
  • Ramani Aswath
    Ramani Aswath
    One of our units has a modest 100 KVA unit in Coimbatore that is fully used. We also use solar water heating plants for process water.
  • D Shashikiran
    D Shashikiran
    No disrespect, but after reading Ankita's comment above, I looked in wikipedia about India's road network, which has 92,851 Km of National highways and 1,63,898 Km of state highways. Keeping minimum width of 30 meters for state highways as the width and total length of 1000(92851+163898)m * 30m, we get an area of 3277170000 sq. mts, which gives us an area equivalent to 809806 Acres. Taking only 20 MW power generation for each 250 acres, still the area is good enough for about 65000MW.

    All we need to do is constructing 50 meter high pillars at suitable distances on both sides of the highways and mount the platform as a top cover for the roads on those pillars to keep solar panels.

    This platform can also be used to collect and distribute rain water.

    This can be done in Kilometer-wise units and each unit can be operational independently to be plugged in. Certainly this is not going to be as costly as constructing the power station in the space.

    My two bits of crazy idea for the members to consider and comment. Comments and feedback are welcome.


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