The limitations of using solar power on earth can be anything from bad weather to just the fact that it needs to be daytime. What if power could be collected both day and night, rain or shine? National Lab researchers at Lawrence Livermore are studying this possibility by launching solar satellites into space.
These orbiting power plants could always be positioned on the day side of earth high above any type of stormy weather. One of the ways this could work is to have a string of geostationary satellites 35,000km above the earth’s surface that would transmit power back down to earth via microwaves. Just one of these satellites could power a major US city.
The challenge comes with both the size and the cost. A single satellite could be as big as 3-10km in diameter and need around 40 rocket launches to get all the materials into space.