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Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP) was foamed with a donation of $100 million. SSPP is now set to launch its new innovation to convert sunlight collected from space into electricity supplied to the Earth. With the donation, it is possible to run tests for the same.
Recently, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and SSPP disclosed that the donation was made by Donald Bren, chairman of Irvine Company and a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees. This will fund breakthrough research. In 2013, the donation was made.
SSPP will test launch multifunctional technology-demonstrator prototypes that collect and convert sunlight to electrical energy, transfer energy wirelessly in free-space using radio frequency (RF) electrical power, and deploy ultralight structures that will be used to integrate them.
While Donald Bren was reading an article in Popular Science, he found out about the potential for space-based solar energy manufacturing. Later he approached Caltech’s then-president Jean-Lou Chameau to further talk about the creation of a space-based solar power research project in 2011.
Caltech President, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, said, “Donald Bren has brought the same drive and discipline that he has demonstrated with master planning communities to the Space Solar Program. He has presented a remarkable technical challenge that promises a remarkable payoff for humanity: a world powered by uninterruptible renewable energy.”
The city of Irvine was planned and built by Donald Bren which is one of the greenest cities in America. He also led Irvine Ranch property near the California coast, with 57,500 acres.
Donald Bren, said, “I have been a student researching the possible applications of space-based solar energy for many years. My interest in supporting the world-class scientists at Caltech is driven by my belief in harnessing the natural power of the sun for the benefit of everyone.”
SSPP has a goal to produce and supply renewable, affordable, and clean energy globally. One of the major advantages of getting solar power from space is that regardless of weather conditions, energy can be transmitted every time of the day.
In early 2023, this project will run its first test. It will also launch technology prototypes for the solar power generators and RF wireless power transfer and includes a deployable structure measuring roughly 6 feet by 6 feet.
Ali Hajimiri, Caltech’s Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and co-director of SSPP, said, “It shows the magnitude of the generosity. They really want to change the world and truly see this as an opportunity to make a lasting difference for the planet, while generating a broad range of novel technologies with impact in many areas such as wireless power, communications, and sensing.”
“Solar energy is the world’s most abundant energy resource. However, sunlight is intermittent at the earth’s surface,” said Harry A. Atwater, an SSPP researcher.