A solar future isn’t just likely — it’s inevitable, plus Japan aims to harness space solar energy

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VOX: A solar future isn’t just likely — it’s inevitable

I plan to write a great deal about the short-term prospects for clean energy, both economic and political, but I want to begin life here at Vox with an imaginative exercise, a bit of musing about what energy might look like in the future — not 10 or 20 years from now, but 50, 70, even 100 years ahead.

Obviously, predicting the far future is a mug’s game if you take it too seriously. This post is more about storytelling, a way of seeing the present through a different lens, than pure prognostication. But storytelling is important. And insofar as one can feel confident about far-future predictions, I feel pretty good about this one.

Here it is: solar photovoltaic (PV) power is eventually going to dominate global energy. The question is not if, but when. Maybe it will happen radically faster than anyone expects — say, by 2050. Or maybe it won’t be until the year 3000, or later. But it’ll happen.

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THE TELEGRAPH: Japan aims to harness space solar energy

Japanese scientists are developing a spacecraft that will have a square screen of solar panels measuring more than 1.2 miles along each side and use microwaves to beam energy down to Earth.
Researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are working with Japan Space Systems to solve one of the enduring problems associated with the most common form of renewable energy; it does not work at night and is inefficient in bad weather.

Solar panels that are not affected by weather and gathered by a Space Solar Power System (SSPS) positioned to constantly face the sun are able to generate an estimated 10 times as much power as Earth-based solar panels.

“We estimate that one SSPS unit will be able to generate around the same amount of energy as one nuclear reactor”, Daisuke Goto, an engineer with the JAXA research team, told The Telegraph.

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THE HUFFINGTON POST: Meet 3 Canadians Bringing Solar Power To The Developing World

Canadian entrepreneurs are helping bring solar power to a growing number of Africans living off the grid. More than half a billion people in Africa don’t have access to electricity, according to Lighting Africa, a program run by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation to improve access to energy. By 2030, that number is expected to reach about 700 million.

The need for light in those communities forces people to turn to cheap, dangerous sources like kerosene lamps and candles. But some Canadians are stepping in to create affordable, clean energy alternatives:

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ZME SCIENCE: Want to put solar panels on your roof? Consider these 6 points before you make a purchase

Using solar energy to meet your power demands does not only make you more environmentally friendly, it may actually save you money. It’s a win-win situation, but only if you’re in for long-run. Of course, it all depends on where you live since how much energy your panels can harvest, and consequently save you money, depends on constantly changing factors such as time of day, season and weather, but also geographic traits such as climate and latitude.

With this in mind, before you decide to grab solar panels to add to your home, look at these six pros and cons of solar energy.

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