North Coast Solar Stocks

April 15, 2009

PG&E looks to the sky for solar power from satellites

Filed under: PCG — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:19 am

4/15/2009 4:19:18 AM

By Steve Johnson, San Jose Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.: In what is believed to be a world’s first, PG&E (PCG) is asking state regulators to let it hire a southern California company to generate electricity from solar-powered satellites in space.

“Emerging technologies like space solar face considerable hurdles,” the utility acknowledged in a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday. However, it added, “PG&E believes that potential, significant benefits to its customers from a successful space solar installation outweigh the challenges associated with a new and unproven technology.”

“We believe this is the first of its kind,” said PG&E spokesman Jonathan Marshall.

Under the plan, which PG&E hopes to have approved by the end of October, the utility would hire Solaren of Manhattan Beach to oversee the project, which is expected to deliver 200 megawatts of power to California by as early as 2016. One megawatt of electricity generally is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.

The idea would be to have satellites in stationary or so-called geosynchronous orbits over the earth use solar cells to convert the sun’s energy to electricity. The satellite then would transmit that power as radio frequency energy to antennas in Fresno County, which would convert the energy to electricity for the state’s power grid.

In its request to the PUC, the utility noted that satellites routinely convert solar power to radio frequency energy and send it earthbound in the form of communications.

The filing did not disclose the overall cost of PG&E’s proposed contract with Solaren.

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