PG&E may buy solar energy from outer space
California State's Public Utilities Commission in December approved a proposal by Pacific Gas & Electric to buy power from a southern California startup named Solaren. And what is this power? Solar energy
beamed to earth from outer space. Solar
panels would be lifted by rockets into an orbit 22,000 miles high, where they would unfurl themselves into an array roughly a third the size of New York's Central Park. Rays from the sun, which are plentiful at that elevation, would be converted to electricity and then beamed down via microwaves to someplace along the PG&E grid. Birds and airplanes would have to keep a distance from the beams.
Quite a lofty idea from a company that has still not raised the capital to build this product. So why is PG&E mixed up in this? Utilities are facing a requirement from the legislature to get 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2010. And PG&E is trying every option it can, knowing that some might fail. And if all fails, PG&E will say they tried and get an extension.