Bloomberg ran a news report announcing that Mitshubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will be joining a $21 Billion Japanese initiative to develop the technology needed to build a space solar power satellite. The effort is being coordinated through the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
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, according to the document. One gigawatt is enough to supply about 294,000 average Tokyo homes.
The trade ministry and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which are leading the project, plan to launch a small satellite fitted with solar panels in 2015, and test beaming the electricity from space through the ionosphere, the outermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere, according to the trade ministry document. The government hopes to have the solar station fully operational in the 2030s, it said.