It is important to first understand that We are all made of energy.
Solar panels have been improving and hold great potential but they are rendered useless by the relentless and uncannily predictable onslaught of night. There’s a simple way to fix this – put the solar panels in space.
Space solar is an idea that has been around for decades, but it is laughably expensive to launch enough solar panels on rockets for anyone to take it seriously. Still, the idea is enticing, because solar panels orbiting Earth get sun 24×7, 365 days a year. They receive 8 times as much energy as terrestrial panels. They can beam power down to Earth anywhere on the planet using radio waves, even in the middle of the night, during a snowstorm – right through clouds. No need for the miraculous breakthrough energy storage that wind & solar farms on Earth require.
What about safety? Beam forming technology makes it possible to send a diffuse beam of radio waves to a large antenna on the ground. The 10GHz band can’t penetrate your skin for more than a millimeter. I’ve stood in front of this beam and at most you can detect a slight warmth, much less than standing in the sunshine. Humans should never end up in the path of the beam, but if they do there is little to no health risk.
What about the ridiculous cost? Even uncontested in the private space launch market, SpaceX has gotten launch cost down 20x from the Space Shuttle. They’re at $2300 per kilogram. This idea gets irresistably cost effective at about $300 per kilogram. The SpaceX target for Starship is $20 per kilogram. In something measured in years, not decades, space solar will become the lowest cost baseload energy anywhere on Earth. It will also be the primary economic driver for private space launch.
Why Virtus Solis? Most of what we’ve seen elsewhere is still in research but we are thrilled with this team’s focus on commercializing this technology as fast as possible. The engineering team is ambitious but humble and practical. They’ve consistently impressed us with better answers than we expected to our hardest technical questions. You can learn more from their blog.