Solar power satellites and telecommunications


  • William E. Gordon,

  • Lewis M. Duncan


The oil crisis in the early seventies stimulated an intensive search for energy alternatives. Among the alternatives proposed for the long range (year 2000 and beyond) as a source of base load electric power is P. Glaser's solar power satellite. In a bold concept, Glaser proposed collecting solar energy on a geosynchronous satellite and relaying it by a microwave beam to a large collector on the ground. The concept in principle is feasible but requires a number of advances in technology to make it cost competitive and raises some questions about the effects of microwave radiation and the impacts on telecommunications. We propose to describe the concept, outline the problems it raises, treat the telecommunications problems with care, and comment generally on the problems of dealing with a bold proposal to solve, in part, a major problem facing society.