This could be a big deal.
Beam Me Down
A leading Chinese solar power company says it's sending panels to orbit in an effort to establish a 24/7 operation harvesting the bright solar energy up there and beaming it back to Earth.
As Bloomberg reports, the Xi'an-based Longi Green Energy Technology Company's proposal is garnering interest because of its deceptively simple value prospect — that it can harness solar power all day, and not just while the Sun is out.
While Longi is far from the first to explore the possibility of space-bound solar panels — Bloomberg notes that CalTech got a grant to study space solar panels back in 2013, and that India, Japan, and Russia are all also working on similar efforts — this Chinese company appears to be the furthest along in making the tech a reality.
China is also home to the first reportedly successful space solar panel transmission model, after researchers at Xidian University captured sunlight high above the ground, converted it into microwave beams, and delivered it to a reception station on the ground that turned the energy into electricity, the report notes.
Along with the exciting prospect itself is the potential for private-public partnership. According to Bloomberg, Wu Zhijian, the president of the government-funded China Space Foundation, said that Longi's creation of a space solar panel lab could lead to renewable energy partnerships with the China National Space Association.
If successful — a huge "if" — the concept could be revolutionary.
READ MORE: Solar panels floating in space could one day power your home [Bloomberg]
More on Chinese energy claims: China Announces Plan for Hybrid Fission-Fusion Power Facility