Thursday, March 3, 2011

Energy of the Future

As the world discovers new ways to meet its growing energy needs, energy generated from Sun and from wind are being considered as a means of generating power. Though these two sources of energy have attracted the scientists for a very long time, they are not able to decide, which of the two is a better source to generate power. Now scientists are looking at a third option that combines solar and wind power to produce enormous energy called the solar wind power.

How does the Solar wind power technology work?
A satellite is launched into space, but instead of working like a wind mill, where a blade attached to the turbine that is rotated to generate electricity, the satellite would use charged copper wire for capturing electrons traveling away from the sun at several hundred kilometers per second.

Advantages of Solar wind power:

  • The scientists say that the entire energy generated from solar wind will not be able to reach the planet for consumption as a lot of energy generated by the satellite has to be pumped back to copper wire to create the electron-harvesting magnetic field. However, the amount that reaches earth is more than sufficient to fulfill the energy needs of the planet.
  • A team of scientists at Washington State University speculate that it can generate 1 billion billion gigawatts of power by using a massive 8,400-kilometer-wide solar sail to harvest the power in solar wind.
  • One billion gigawatts of power could also be generated by a satellite having 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) cable with a sail 8,400 kilometers (5,220 miles) across.
  • The scientists feel that if some of the practical issued are solved, Solar wind power will generate the amount of power that no one including the scientists working to find new means of generating power ever expected.

Disadvantages of Solar wind power
But despite the fact that Solar wind power will solve almost all the problems, it has some disadvantages as well.

  • Large engineering difficulties will have to be solved before satellites to tap solar wind power are deployed.
  • The distance between the satellite and earth will be so huge that as the laser beam travels millions of miles, it makes even the tightest laser beam spread out and lose most of the energy. To solve this problem, a more focused laser is needed.
  • But even if these laser beams reach our satellites, it is very doubtful that our satellites in their present form will be able to tap them. The energy is there but there are practical constraints preventing the capture of the energy at this time.

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting concept, though it sounds like it will be difficult to put into practice. Transmission to earth sounds challenging, and I wonder about the footprint of what would be needed to receive it (and what happens if the transmission hits another location instread?). However, sometimes there are spinoffs as people consider various alternative, and this may lead to other breakthroughs.