Chinese engineers seem to be getting their new mega-project ideas for Isaac Asimov’s books. According to ET, 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 on the scale, it’s planning; it will be bigger engineering project than the entire Apollo Program and even the International Space Station. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station, and be the largest-ever space project.
Moving away from fossil fuels and towards green energy generation is becoming increasingly important, not just because fossil fuels will eventually run out, but the emissions they produce are choking the atmosphere. That’s why we are seeing huge solar farms being built, but China is considering a much more ambitious project. Chinese scientists want to construct a massive solar power station in space. After devoting more than half a century to space technology research, Wang, 93, is an advocate for the station: “An economically viable space, power station would be really huge, with the total area of the solar panels reaching 5 to 6 square kilometers.”
Some Chinese research institutes and universities have also conducted studies related to space solar power technology in recent years. “The development of wireless power transmission technology will be a great advance. After the technology is applied, power cables will not be needed anywhere in the world. Just imagine what a world it will be,” he says with a smile.
Even if such a project does sound crazy, the research to make it happen should be encouraged. Having the Chinese government throws money at heavy-lift launch vehicles and super efficient and lightweight solar panels is going to aid many more projects than this, even if a solar power space station never gets off the ground. Li Ming, vice president of the China Academy of Space Technology, says, “China will build a space station in around 2020, which will open an opportunity to develop space solar power technology.”