Is Solaren’s SBSP Plan a Game Changer or a $2 Billion Folly?

A giant leap toward space-based solar power
Los Angeles Times

A Manhattan Beach start-up called Solaren Corp. seeks to launch an array of giant solar power collectors into orbit 23,000 miles above Fresno and beam the energy to Earth. PG&E has signed a contract to buy the power — if Solaren can make the technology work.

The proposal is a potential energy game-changer, supporters say. But, critics dismiss it as pie in the sky.

The scheme highlights a growing dispute as utilities struggle to meet ambitious requirements for energy from renewable sources: Should electricity come from big, bold projects such as huge desert fields of sunlight-reflecting mirrors or should it come from smaller, close-to-the-user efforts such as rooftop solar panels? Should big power companies handle electron delivery or do-it-yourselfers?

Solaren won’t discuss the details or costs of its plan, other than to give a ballpark price tag at more than $2 billion, to generate enough electricity for 150,000 homes across much of Northern and Central California. It has asked utility regulators to keep the information confidential, for now.

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