Space solar is best solar

Life is the harnessing and expression of energy. We are fortunate in many ways that life on our planet has been harvesting and refining the energy of Sol our sun for so long. We have been able to recover the ancient stored solar energy from fossil fuels for centuries, and more recently converting solar energy directly to electricity. Scale up and mass manufacture of photovoltaic cells has made solar power the most economical energy in many markets, particularly those closer to the equator.

The largest obstacle to relying strictly on terrestrial-sited solar energy is the shading from our planet and weather. To offset that periodic loss, many advocate overbuild of solar collection and add energy storage. The challenge is that weather further from the equator, especially in the winter season can mean overcast skies for days or even weeks - which would mean the installed capacity would need to be at best 2x but sometimes 20x or more of energy demand to put into storage. To date, the energy grid has balanced the random loss of sunlight with fast-reacting but inefficient fossil-fuel powered plants and the longer sunless periods like overnight with larger, slower-reacting but more efficient fossil-fueled and nuclear plants. Energy storage, particularly grid-scale battery energy storage is not scalable due to material and manufacturing costs for known chemistries.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to decarbonizing the entire energy sector. Space based solar as an idea has been around for one hundred years with the economics of implementation being the biggest challenge. We have a solution for the economic challenges, but it is helpful to communicate in physical terms the superiority of sourcing energy in space and transporting it to users in a way that avoids the deficits of terrestrial solar. We created the following infographic to explain, with some of our tech improving the losses from prior space based solar solutions.

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