California utility PG&E has signed a deal for the world's first space-based solar power plant, to be built by Solaren, a Southern California startup staffed by veterans of the U.S. Air Force, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid. Additional information on the project is available at www.next100.com, a blog published by PG&E.

Space Energy, a Swiss company that's also going after spaced-based solar power, had an interesting posting on its website regarding the PG&E/Solaren deal. “This is a huge step forward for both Solaren and Space Energy, as it highlights to the investment community that utility firms are willing to recognize space-based solar power as a credible and viable source of energy. While the 200MW Solaren is planning to provide represents only 20 percent of the planned capacity of one of our satellites, it successfully validates the overall business case for space-based solar power within the larger energy industry. Space Energy has already sent a letter of congratulations to Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak, and has offered our full support in dealing with any regulatory issues, or otherwise.”

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