Welcome to Throw Forward Thursday. My name is Graeme Codrington, and it’s Thursday, and we are going into the future. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been doing a mini-series on transportation. That’s now over, but we’re staying in space for one more week and talking about energy production in space. This was an idea that was sent to me by a colleague and friend, Professor Nick Barker, and he saw some research that was being done into massive orbiting solar farms that were in space.
If we can get enough solar cells into space and we can put a massive set of solar panels above the Earth’s atmosphere, then those solar panels actually work a lot better than they do on Earth. They’re not restricted by the Earth’s atmosphere. They’re not restricted by clouds and even by night-time, actually, because they can move in a way where they’re always getting access to the sun’s rays. And now that SpaceX is developing high capacity, large capacity rockets, we can get the type of equipment that we’re going to need to build solar farms in space.
We can get that into space now.
So, the technology exists. You might be asking, well, how do we get the power back down to Earth? That’s the bit that makes me a little bit nervous. It has a sort of James Bond villain feel to it, because what you do is you stream down. I think it would sort of be in the form of quite a strong light ray that comes out. The bottom of this solar panel comes down to Earth, is captured in a spot on Earth. They’re mainly thinking of doing it sort of offshore, like you would have a solar wind farm. You then have some device on Earth which captures that directed heat, and then you turn that into energy and power and lock it into the local power grid. This was conceived 100 years ago by a Russian scientist. It’s been investigated and the kind of engineering conceived quite seriously since the 80s, particularly by Japanese scientists.
But now it looks as if the technology exists to make this a reality. So, sometime in the future, and maybe not the far distant future, we’re going to be able to generate energy in space, transfer it down to Earth, solving all sorts of climate change and space problems and providing better forms of renewable and sustainable energy orbiting solar cells, orbiting energy farms in space. The future is a remarkable place, isn’t it?
As always, if you’ve got an idea you’d like to contribute, you can do it at askaboutthefuture.com. Just go to that website and tell me your idea about the future, I’ll look into it. And if it’s worthy of inclusion, it’ll make its way into the throw forward Thursday studio. Otherwise, just make sure that you subscribe hit the notification button so that every Thursday you remember to come and have a look again at something that we can see might happen in the future. And maybe not far distant future at that.
Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.