Caltech Wirelessly Transmits Power From Space
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Caltech Wirelessly Transmits Power From Space

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Perla Velasco By Perla Velasco | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Tue, 06/06/2023 - 09:25

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has achieved a milestone in space technology with its successful demonstration of wireless power transfer from space to Earth. The space solar power prototype, called Space Solar Power Demonstrator-1 (SSPD-1), launched into orbit in January and has recently showcased its ability to wirelessly transmit power and beam detectable energy to the planet.

This experiment was possible through the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE), led by SSPP to harness solar power in space and transmit it to Earth. MAPLE consists of a series of flexible lightweight microwave power transmitters powered by custom electronic chips constructed using low-cost silicon technologies. This advanced system employs an array of transmitters to beam energy to targeted locations on Earth.

The development of MAPLE was overseen by a team of scientists and engineers at Caltech.  The successful demonstration of wireless power transmission by the MAPLE experiment within the SSPD-1 prototype represents a leap forward in space-based energy technology. "Through the experiments we have run so far, we received confirmation that MAPLE can transmit power successfully to receivers in space. We have also been able to program the array to direct its energy toward Earth, which we detected here at Caltech. We had, of course, tested it on Earth, but now we know that it can survive the trip to space and operate there," says Hajimiri.

While Mexico experienced a decline in clean energy generation in 2022, with a drop in both wind and solar power production, Caltech's breakthrough serves as a reminder of the importance of expanding the renewable energy sector to achieve the country’s decarbonization goals.

Government Sees Intermittent Renewable Energy as a Problem

The Energy Transition Law has set ambitious targets for increasing the share of clean energy sources in Mexico's electricity generation mix. However, there are concerns that the government's support for traditional technologies fired by fossil fuels may hinder progress toward meeting these targets.

Mexico’s clean energy power production decreased between 2021 and 2022 due to a drop in wind and solar power generation during that period. The year 2022 saw a decline in both wind and solar energy generation in Mexico, with reductions of 3.5% and 4.6%, respectively, compared to the previous year. This decrease highlights the need to continue expanding the country's renewable energy sector to decarbonize the economy.

Photo by:   goinyk

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