September 2, 2009: The Japanese government is preparing to fund efforts to built an orbiting solar power station, and several Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi have signed on as well. This satellite would gather energy from solar power panels, and then beam it down to Earth via microwave radiation for 24 hours every day.
However, the concept is seen as somewhat inefficient, giving the high price tag for something that will only be able to provide energy for 300,000 Japanese homes. ($21 billion works out to $70,000 per home.)
Game and Story Use
- If they can make such satellites more cost-efficient (which might be possible if they build more of them and bring the economies of scale down), then Japan could become a future leader of energy production.
- Something like a space elevator might also make this a lot cheaper by greatly reducing cost-to-orbit.
- Holding such a device hostage and threatening to divert its beam to populated areas would be a plot worthy of any supervillain.
- The Militarisation of space is deemed an eventual certainty in some circles - and having your foot in the door by having a space-based microwave transmitter is a good strategic move. Therefore, other countries might also choose to spend huge amounts of money on "solar collectors" in space - energy stations that could be repurposed in times of war.
- Orbital generators would be a good hidden resource in an after the end setting - since they would be likely to survive any planet based disaster and with advanced self-maintenance capabilities might well be fully operational centuries later when adventurers probing ancient ruins find a way to bring them back online.
- Something similar features in at least one David Gemmell novel.