A Californian company has announced plans to "harvest" electricity in space... but is this a solar revolution or the start of a James Bond-esque villainous plan to control the world's weather?
The British Guardian newspaper reported earlier this week that Pacific Gas and Electricity have agreed to buy electricity from start-up SolarEn, which plans to launch orbiting "solar farm" satellites that will harvest the stronger sunlight and beam the energy to Earth, to power areas of California starting in 2016. It all sounds very utopian and forward thinking... until Bldgblog pointed out that, in 2006, SolarEn was looking to use the technology for a rather different use altogether:
Using a complicated geometry of spaceborne mirrors in tandem with meteorological tracking technology, this device would give SolarEn the ability to control the weather. Or, as the patent application itself explains, it would be a "Space-based power system and method of altering weather using space-born energy"... What's fascinating about SolarEn's proposal is that it seems entirely possibly that, for instance, Dubai, attempting to recapture the international imagination, might put into orbit a private, geostationary solar farm with which that city could not only power its delirious experiments in beach refrigeration and large-scale air-conditioning, but actually create a new climate for the city.
The technology apparently works around "[e]nergy from the space-based power system [being] applied to a weather element, such as a hurricane, and [altering] the weather element to weaken or dissipate the weather element," according to SolarEn's own patent application... which sounds somewhat fantastical, but not moreso than the idea of solar farms floating around in space, beaming energy down to the planet. Has PG&E's decision to fund SolarEn's work saved the planet, or just started a chain of events that will lead to us being blackmailed for one meeelion dollars sooner than we'd think?
Space-Based Storm Control [BLDGBLOG]