There is much discussion on whether the most efficient power source is the sun or wind. The most significant drawback of both is that they are hard to scale. Today I read an article on sify.com about a study that has been published in the International Journal of Astrobiology. It says that the world’s energy needs could be met 100 billion times over by means of a satellite to harness the solar wind.
How does it work?
This conceptual satellite is called Dyson-Harrop. It begins with a long metal wire loop pointed at the sun. When this wire is charged, it generates a cylindrical magnetic field that snags the electrons which then get funnelled into a metal spherical receiver to produce a current. This magnetic field makes the system sustainable.
Any current over the magnetic need powers an infrared laser trained on satellite dishes back on Earth, designed to collect the energy.
What are the advantages of using solar satellites?
Designer of Dyson-Harrop, Brooks Harrop, a physicist at Washington State University in Pullman asserts that a satellite with a 1-kilometre-long wire and a sail 8400 kilometres wide could generate 100 billion times the power humanity currently requires.
It is easy to construct out of copper and costs less than solar panels per pound.
A major drawback is thought to be the distance from earth the satellites are supposed to be located: from some ten million kilometers a sharp laser beam is said to spread to thousands of kilometres wide by the time it reached Earth.
Sify (News) – Sept 25, 2010