Image courtesy of NASA
Reprising a topic we've covered before - the harnessing of solar energy from space - we bring you the latest on a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Defense and Palau to test the feasibility of using satellites to beam down "affordable, clean, safe, reliable, sustainable, and expandable energy for mankind."
At first glance, the small island nation of Palau might seem like an unusual partner for such a venture; according to Kevin Reed, an American entrepreneur heading a U.S.-Swiss-German consortium that seeks to bring the type of ultralight solar panel technology needed for the satellites, however, its uninhabited Helen Island would provide the ideal testing ground for a small demonstration. As part of the demonstration, a 260-foot-diameter "rectifying antenna," or rectenna, would be set up to collect 1 MW from a satellite orbiting some 300 miles above - enough to power about 1,000 homes. The satellites would move over a target area every 90 minutes or so and take 5 minutes to transmit energy down to Earth to be stored or used immediately. Such a project, which Reed explained would "be intended to show its safety for everything else," could be completed by 2012.
Tommy Remengesau Jr., Palau's president, and the Pentagon are certainly keen on the idea: A report prepared for the National Security Space Office concluded that space power could offer a huge potential source of energy for the DOD's operations; at the same time, it could provide an economic boost to the Pacific nation and favorable place it as a leader in the technology.
Via ::Associated Press: "Drilling Up" -- Some Look to Space for Energy (news website)