The problem with gathering solar energy here on Earth via solar panels is that a lot of the energy that the sun produces doesn’t make it through the atmosphere to the solar panels. Scientists have been working to design a method that would allow the solar panels to be in space where they have unfettered access to solar energy and then beam the power back to Earth for use.
The problem is that in the past the accuracy hasn’t been good enough to make this sort of system functional in the real world. That may soon change with scientists at the Japanese space administration called JAXA have announced a breakthrough in moving energy wirelessly.
The breakthrough involved significantly increased accuracy in beaming wireless power from space. The team working on the project was able to beam 1.8 kilowatts of power over a distance of 50 meters to a small receiver without using wires. 1.8 kilowatts isn’t a lot of juice mind you, it’s enough to power an electric tea kettle.
To perform the feat, the scientists had to convert the electrical signal to microwaves and then beam them to a remote receiver where the microwaves were converted back to electrons. This is the first time that scientists have been able to move electrons with accuracy across an appreciable distance. The next step is trying to scale the experiment up to work with larger distances and more power.