Michigan Technological University, in collaboration with professionals from NASA, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Space Solar Power Institute, hosted a Space Solar Power (SSP) workshop to clarify the challenges facing SSP implementation. The workshop was held in conjunction with the IEEE International Conference on Wireless for Space and Extreme Environments at Baltimore, MD, November 7 – 9, 2013. Researchers from Industry and Academia of many countries including India, Japan, UK and USA participated in this event.
Prof. Seyed A, (Reza) Zekavat, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech organized the workshop. Michigan Tech’s Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics departments have been actively conducting SSP research. The workshop is being offered to academics, industry professionals, and members of professional associations related to renewable energy to focus on SSP’s challenges and opportunities.
Thirty seven states and many countries have initiated Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and other initiatives to adopt improved energy alternatives, such as ground-based solar, bio-fuel, and wind. SSP satellites, however, appear to be the most attractive of these; large-scale, baseload, low CO2 emissions, near zero fuel and water use, among other key advantages.
SSP would be large-scale solar energy collection in space and its wireless transmission to Earth for use by the customers of existing major power grids. SSP development would take advantage of many advanced technologies and promote further advances; including wireless power transmission, microwave circuits, space transportation, new communication paradigms, light and smart space-based structures, telerobotic construction and operations, photovoltaics and electric propulsion.
The International Academy of Astronautics’ SSP study advocated for the “coordination among various countries and between industry and government agencies.” Japan’s large SSP project and consortium is being emulated in China, Russia and elsewhere. This workshop provided a forum for all relevant stakeholders, including energy developers and power industry representatives.
Dr. Paul Werbos, National Science Foundation, Program Director, Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research & Innovation (ENG/EFRI), was a Keynote Speaker with the topic of “Energy from Space: Challenges ahead from Technical to Political”. Dr. Koji Tanaka, The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was a Keynote Speaker with the topic of “Mission design of WPT Space Demonstration Experiment using Small Scientific Satellite toward SPS.”