CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE December 3, 2009
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today approved a renewable energy contract for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), furthering the state’s progress towards its renewable energy goals.
Through its power purchase agreement with Solaren Corporation, PG&E is entitled to generation from a first-of-its kind space-based solar project. The experimental technology uses orbiting satellites equipped with solar cells to convert the sun’s energy into electricity, which is then converted into radio frequency energy that can be transmitted to a local receiver station. Space-based solar power has been researched in the U.S. for several decades and this summer the Japanese government announced plans to pursue a space-based solar program.
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.
Startup to Beam Power from Space Technology Review
Now Solaren Corporation, a startup based in Manhattan Beach, CA, is trying to get the idea off the ground. It’s working with the California utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which intends to enter into a power-purchase agreement with the company. If the agreement is approved by regulators, starting in 2016, the utility will purchase 200 megawatts of power from Solaren at an undisclosed price–that is, if the startup can get a system into space and working by then. The company has already selected a site in California for the receiving station; it hasn’t said exactly where, but it will be close to a PG&E substation and won’t require long-distance transmission lines.
As part of PG&E’s commitment to providing more renewable energy to its customers, the utility has supported a wide range of technologies, including wind, geothermal, biomass, wave and tidal, and at least a half dozenÂ types of solar thermal and photovoltaic power.