Power plant in space to power homes on earth

JAPAN - Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen (US $21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades and beam electricity to earth.

A research group representing 16 companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

, will spend four years developing technology to send electricity without cables in the form of microwaves, according to a statement on the trade ministry’s Web site.

“It sounds like a science-fiction cartoon, but solar power generation in space may be a significant alternative energy source in the century ahead as fossil fuel disappears,” said Kensuke Kanekiyo, managing director of the Institute of Energy Economics, a government research body.

Japan is developing the technology for the 1-gigawatt solar station, fitted with four square kilometers of solar panels, and hopes to have it running in three decades, according to a 15-page background document prepared by the trade ministry in August. Being in space it will generate power from the sun regardless of weather conditions, unlike earth-based solar generators.

One gigawatt is enough to supply about 294,000 average Tokyo homes.



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