The sun is constantly putting out incredibly vast amounts of radiant energy in all directions. (About the equivalent of 2 billion power plants' worth of yearly energy every second!) Earth receives only a fraction of this output, yet capturing it has the potential of providing renewable and virtually pollution-free energy - especially in places where access to conventional power grids is limited or impossible.
The video below, created by Mafic Studios, Inc. for the National Space Society and the National Security Space Office in Washington, D.C., shows how such an orbiting structure would work.
Basically, large sets of solar cells would gather the sun's energy and send it wirelessly down to ground-based receptor/transformer stations, which would then distribute the electricity for use.
The process would create no hazardous waste or emissions.
Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President of the National Space Society, stated "As the United States makes decisions now to answer the energy challenges of the next 50 years, space-based solar power must be a part of the answer. The NSSO-led study charts the path forward. While the technical challenges are real, significant investment now can build Space Solar Power into the ultimate energy source: clean, green, renewable, and capable of providing the vast amounts of power that the world will need. Congress, federal agencies and the business community should begin that investment immediately."