According to the Pentagon, at least, it\’s all rather simple:
At some point before 2050, satellites collecting solar power and beaming it back to Earth will become a primary energy source, streaming terawatts of electricity continuously from space. That\’s if you believe a recent report from the Pentagon\’s National Security Space Office, which says confidently that we will see "a basic proof-of-concept within 4-6 years and a substantial power demonstration as early as 2017-2020".
The technology itself exists, both for the collection and transmission of such power. The one sticking point is the cost of getting into orbit. That, unfortunately, is still far too high….sadly, one of the reasons for that is the existence of the Space Shuttle itself.
"The technology has been in development for a while," says Joseph Rouge, associate director of the space office. "The truly hard and expensive part is going to be getting it into orbit. We\’ll need regular launches and on-orbit robotic assembly systems. It\’s a $10bn [£4.8bn] programme, but by 2050 it could deliver 10% of America\’s power needs."
$10 billion? In the context of climate change this is a pittance of course. Why not just go ahead and build one? It would, after all, save the planet, wouldn\’t it?