Harnessing the sun’s rays within space and transmitting them back to the planet earth is a mind boggling process and truly out of this world—but no, it could become a reality sooner than we ever thought thanks to the scientists based at Russia’s Rostec Corporation.
The team recently completed its research work and produced a prototype oxygen-iodine laser powered by solar. Their main goal is to fix the technology on various orbital satellites, which would then beam the energy onto the earth to be translated into electricity.
“It is planned that the final stage of developing laser systems for transforming solar energy will be accomplished after 2020,” stays Sergei Popov, First Deputy CEO of Shvabe Holding Company; which is part of Rostec.
The researchers at Rostec have been trying to fix the solar-powered laser project for several years now. In 2015, there were claims that the technology would become much cheaper than solar PV systems with regards to electricity generation. But to stay competitive, the prices of solar equipment have also dropped so significantly since then.
Normally, an oxygen-iodine laser produces an infrared beam which remains invisible to the naked eye. When combined, the lasers generate output power that can scale up to megawatts when in continuous mode.
Inspired and developed in 1970 by the US Air Force for military applications, the same technology has also been enhanced for cutting and drilling operations.
As a Russian state corporation, Rostec was established about a decade ago to design, build and export technologically advanced industrial products for both defence and civil sectors. The corporation has hundreds of other entities under its umbrella including Kalashnikov.
Notably, critics find it a little disturbing that a mere corporation could actually take up the prospects of developing a 20-tonne reconnaissance and military attack robot loaded with other weapons including high-powered lasers that beam energy back to the Earth. However, it’s worth noting that just like Rostec, there are many Western corporations that have already ventured into the renewable energy and military weapons industry.
All in all, we hope that when Rostec’s system finally gets up there, the rapport established with the Russians will continue.
The technology for generating solar power energy from space and transmitting it back to Earth has received some level of attention in the past decade and we should embrace ourselves for more.
And more interestingly is the fact that solar-powered lasers could potentially help eliminate pesky asteroids that threaten our existence altogether.
The winning combination of lasers and solar power has already been developed here on planet Earth, including the mosquito-zapping solar-powered laser.