Tons of Mirrors, an energy company focused on making solar energy cheaper and more accessible, plans to make sunlight a 24-hour phenomenon. The company’s CEO, Ben Nowack, is a 26-year-old technology innovator who previously worked with Space X. Nowack has plans to install a special setup in space, which includes large mirrors that can redirect sunlight at night to solar panels on Earth.
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“Today, with the solar panels that are out there, it’s a $20 billion-a-year industry,” Nowack says as reported by Vice. “What I’m building is bigger than any of the markets they currently have. If that’s the electric solution, and let’s say in 200 years it replaces fossil fuels, that’s a $17 trillion market.”
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The setup would be positioned on the International Space Station (ISS) to facilitate 24-hour access to solar power. It will protrude into space while reflecting enough sunlight back to Earth to facilitate solar energy harvesting. The idea of orbital solar reflectors was first presented to the senate in 1977. Since then, many scientists have toyed with the idea.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are currently working on large-scale satellite solar reflector technology that will enable large-scale solar farms to access sunlight at night. China has also announced plans to release artificial moons into space. The reflective objects are said to have enough light to replace street lights by the end of this year.
According to Nowack, his initial idea was to have an infinitely long vacuum tube containing sunlight-directed mirrors in space. However, he revised the idea due to its size and the resources it would require. With his current idea, a large wave of particles or light can be narrowed into a single beam.
While the idea is good, Noack has some challenges that the company is still trying to work out. He is currently trying to lower the cost, establish a large area in space required for the setup and raise money.
“It’s an enormous national security risk if China has access to electricity for 10 or 100 times cheaper than the US,” he said, highlighting the geopolitical challenges of cheap clean power moving forward.
Via Interesting Engineering
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