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China holds leading position in research of space-based solar power

By Sun Wenyu (People's Daily Online)    14:57, November 02, 2017

An artist's rendition of a space-based solar power station

China now holds a leading position in the research of space-based solar power after decades of research which has narrowed the gap between itself and leading countries, Li Ming, research fellow of China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), told Science and Technology Daily on Nov. 1.

China is expected to be the first country to build a practical space-based solar power station, as long as it continues investing in research and development, Li added.

Wang Li, another research fellow with CAST, noted that both Chinese and foreign experts are optimistic about China’s leading ability in this field.

Compared with traditional fossil energy, which has been increasingly exhausted and is responsible for severe environmental issues, space-based solar power is more efficient, sustainable, and clean. It can generate as much energy as a ground-based nuclear power plant.

However, the construction has long been a challenge for scientists, because its weight and size are way beyond the current carrying-capacity of spacecraft.

The US, Japan, and Russia have all made huge investment in this area, and the space departments of India, South Korea, and Europe are also conducting related research.

Taking space-based solar power as a key research program since 2008, China has made a number of major breakthroughs in wireless energy transmission and proposed various energy-collecting solutions.

The country has become a leader in and a major promoter of the development of space-based solar power.

Wang believes that leading in this area is an opportunity for China to further narrow its gap between itself and other major space powers.

Space-based solar power will ease environmental and energy pressure in China, and also spur the country’s innovation and emerging industries, Wang added. 

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