After JAXA's announcement of space-based solar power for Japan, we've been keeping our eyes peeled for some news of similar projects Stateside. Lo and behold, California's largest energy utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, has agreed to do just that, inking a deal with solar power startup Solaren Corp. The agreement calls for the utility to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity once the company starts beaming power down from Earth orbit beginning in 2016. A solar-power satellite would consist of mirror arrays -- perhaps measuring up to several miles wide -- which would focus sunlight onto photoelectric cells. From there, the electrical power is converted into a microwave beam that is directed downward toward Earth, where it's converted back into electricity and then fed into the grid. According to the company, the system could generate roughly 1.2 to 4.8 gigawatts of power, at a price comparable to that of other renewable energy sources. When asked for a comment, legendary sci-fi jazz composer Sun Ra was more than enthusiastic. "Space is the place," he said.

[Via Fresno Bee]

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Solaren Corp to supply California with space-based solar power